The Accountant (Short Film) (2001)

15 Apr

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Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

One of the best ideas from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was to create an awards category for short films, because any good or great film at any length—long or short—can tell a story and create effectiveness all the same. This is especially true of “The Accountant,” a short film (about 35 minutes) that won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. Watching the film on DVD, it’s easy to see why.

“The Accountant” takes place mainly on the O’Dell family farm in the South. Walton Goggins and Eddie King play brothers Tommy and David O’Dell, who call in an accountant (Ray McKinnon) to help save the farm. They get more than they bargained for, as the Accountant (whose name is never revealed) is a walking calculator who finds an amount in just about everything. He doesn’t even use a calculator—he figures numbers with his hands and feet. He also smokes chain and swigs beer like it’s no one’s business (he drinks a lot in this film and for those who are wondering when he has to take a leak, you’ll have a big laugh midway through the film).

The Accountant is a tall, well-dressed man who constantly leers at those around him, is intelligent, and also smokes, eats, and drinks a lot. He also has his own conspiracy theory about how things work in the South. Is he right? The strange thing is that he could be. I bought this character completely, and Ray McKinnon portrays the role excellently.

The other actors—Goggins and King—have good, convincing chemistry together. You really buy them as brothers.

Another great thing about “The Accountant” is the writing. This is an intelligently written film—not only does every line reading sound like the opposite of a line reading, but when these guys talk, we’re interested in what they have to say. Whether it’s listening to the Accountant’s unheard-of solution to the brothers’ problem (funny at first but shocking toward the end), the Accountant figuring the odds of David’s wife cheating on him (very funny), picking on Southern stereotypes (love the references to “Sling Blade” and “In the Heat of the Night”—by the way, all three actors guest-starred on an episode or two of that show, so that’s a neat in-joke), or ranting about the conspiracy that the South losing touch with its heritage, I loved listening to what these people had to say.

“The Accountant” was written and directed by McKinnon (that would definitely explain how he played the lead role so well); it was also produced by Goggins and McKinnon’s wife Lisa Blount. You can tell that they put their hearts into this film. It’s well-made, superbly written, and well-acted with a great blend of humor, quirkiness, and an effective message. It deserved the Oscar win.

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