“I like Dogs Playing Poker. Because dogs would never bet on things; so it’s incongruous. I like incongruity.”
Although it is equal parts a competent crime thriller and a character study of an isolated mathematician savant, The Accountant is essentially a disguised superhero movie that in some ways makes up for the fact that Affleck’s Batman will never see a solo outing. Christian Wolff’s “powers” are rooted in his autism and a childhood primed by his father to resist bullies. This manifests in rather more robust skills than the typical chartered professional, and a peculiar moral compass that allows him to work with some criminal enterprises in rooting out financial irregularities, whilst engaging in vigilante justice against others. The bursts of action are well-choreographed and blessedly free of jump-cuts. It is The Accountant‘s pacing as much as the violence which makes this a strictly adult affair. Although high-functioning autism has become a trope, it is handled here with some sensitivity and it would be reductive to boil Wolff’s character down to nothing more than “socially awkward Batman” (which is, arguably, just Batman). Affleck injects welcome nuance to his performance, particularly in his scenes with Anna Kendrick. However, the awkwardly preachy post-conclusion scene is… incongruous.
Keira Knightley always seems most comfortable in a period piece. Although centred around a romance in the 1930s, Atonement is more a story about perspective, misunderstanding and consequences. We see a pivotal scene at a fountain from two perspectives, allowing us to appreciate how it was misconstrued by a child. Joe Wright’s camerawork allows the audience inside characters’ heads, used most notably in a sprawling six-minute long take on the Dunkirk beach. The film’s conclusion feels slightly rushed but still maintains the book’s tragic reveal, an ending that will undoubtedly be off-putting to some but should be little surprise for an adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel.
“I guess it’s a way of keeping things alive. You know, saving things that will eventually die. If I write it down, then… it’ll last forever.”
Tom Ford’s sophomore film is a haunting, contemplative concoction that trusts its viewers to keep pace. Although to a lesser extent that A Single Man, Ford’s designer eye remains clear in the way he frames and controls each shot. Amy Adams brings melancholy introspection to an unhappily married woman revisiting the past after her ex-husband sends a manuscript of his novel, dedicated to her. Excising his demons through a strange form of disempowered revenge fantasy, half the film is spent within this fiction, which opens with a harrowing sequence on a lonely highway at night. Although the second half is less visceral, it becomes a more intellectual study of strength and weakness. Through Susan’s memories and Edward’s fiction we see both ex-partners working through the mistakes of a failed relationship, which might finally allow for a reconciliation.