Accountable (2017)

Accountable first published by SciFiNow

Awoken by his alarm clock at the beginning of Accountable, Warren Matthews (Oliver Towner) is alone and lying supine on his bathroom floor, surrounded by the detritus of a hard night’s drinking, and with a crumpled business card for Dr Arnold Becker next to his bruised knuckles. Warren vomits into the toilet, and tears through his apartment destroying things, before finally seeing his own face in the mirror and punching the glass.

This prologue to Accountable – the feature debut directed, written, cast, edited, produced and financed by Matthew Heaven – introduces us to a man who is his own worst enemy. Warren is a powder keg: seething and fuming his way through his office employment in a way that alienates his colleagues (and leads to him losing his job), flying into a rage with little provocation, keeping people at a distance, avoiding all intimacy, and drinking himself to sleep every night. He also has a gun in his kitchen drawer. He is a man of anger and violence, and an accident waiting to happen. The explosion – probably the last of many – happens when he hospitalises a former colleague (Sam Kacher). Then he sees a flyer in a cafe advertising the services of Becker (Robert Eldridge), and decides the time has come to pay the psychiatrist a visit. 

A central image here, seen in a dream while our protagonist lolls in a drunken stupor, is a high-angle shot of church ruins, with Warren lying, his arms outstretched Jesus-like, in its transept. There is indeed a neat New Testament symmetry of wrack and resurrection to Heaven’s narrative, as, over several counselling sessions with Becker, Warren undergoes the slow process of recovery, reconciling himself to a damaged childhood, learning to love and be loved by others (like Lizzie Davies’ Emma), and slowly confronting where he has come from and who he is. A twist, however, will reveal precisely what has made Warren who he is today, and deliver a different sort of symmetry. It is a story of tragic disconnection and its all-too-inevitable (if hidden) cause, where ironically it is the very success of Warren’s progress with anger management that enables him to stop being so hot-tempered and to come up with a resolution both cold and calculated.

In a frame cracked by one of his earlier destructive rampages, Warren keeps a photo of himself, as a child, isolated atop a cliff. Made on a genuine micro-budget, the psychological drama Accountable is a morally challenging portrait of a man who has never stopped being a little boy, on the edge. 

strap: Matthew Heaven’s micro-budget feature debut is a psychological drama about anger management, with a revenger’s twist

Anton Bitel