“Bank of Dave” (2023)
Running Time: 107 minutes
Written by: Piers Ashworth
Directed by: Chris Foggin
Featuring: Joel Fry, Phoebe Dynevor, Rory Kinnear, Hugh Bonneville, Paul Kaye, Jo Hartley and Cathy Tyson
Dave: “Indulge me just for a day. There’s method in my madness.”
Released recently on Netflix is the English based and produced “Bank of Dave” (2023), a drama with comic overtones that brings to light a recent period that also highlights how business in the UK is structured as well as the way in which some people are kept out of the halls of money and power. It also attempts to highlight how ideas that could be seen as revolutionary are put forward and all the obstacles that exist to stop that idea. What “Bank of Dave” is to bring together a very good high profile cast, gives them all room to breathe with their own stories that link up to the main narrative but is a little let down by some formulaic writing as well as uninspired direction which means this is a movie that, like so many British stories that are produced each year could get a little lost, which is a shame as this is not only an eye opening story but illustrates clearly that the idea of a movement based on communities should be able to succeed no matter the cages it rattles in the process.
It’s remarkable the seeming ease that the British Film Industry is able to produce great independent drama, comedies and horror movies each and every year. Not only that, but the talent on show always seems to be original as well as first class. What many of these English films have in common is that they are based around something unique or have some kind of gimmick, this new movie “Bank of Dave”” has both of those, but feels like it is stretched too thin to actually make the impact it should. While it is an ensemble with a large group of characters, the narrative itself feels a little obvious and gimmicky that it seems just like a story that has been plotted to fit within two hours. This movie has much in common with many of the British movies produced over the past twenty years, it has some well-known actors that could all carry their own movies, it has a concentration of on location production, is based on a very English story and most often has relatively inexperienced writers and directors. What is healthy to see with “Bank of Dave” is that it is a narrative that has been directed by Chris Foggin who also directed the drama “Fisherman’s Friends” (2018) which was a little thinly stretched but this movie is actually much better with a fuller story and overall better performances.
The film is based on the real-life experiences of Dave Fishwick. It follows the story of a Burnley working class and self-made millionaire, who struggles to set up a community bank to help the town’s local businesses to thrive. To do so, he must battle London’s elite financial institutions and compete for the first banking licence in over 100 years.
With lead performances by both Joel Fry and Rory Kinnear “Bank of Dave” really does hum along at a very good pace, but it hinges on the performances of not only the two leads but the supporting cast as well. Of course in terms of character arcs it is the two leads that really have them and Fry has the best of all, going from a London lawyer who cares about one thing to becoming an almost three dimensional person who has been impacted by the small town morals. To say that his change in person is almost too good to be true is probably speaking the truth as it is as formulaic as they come, which is kind of a missed opportunity to actually show the disparity between big city politics and greed in juxtaposition with a smallish town that is just getting by. Also there is the typical and expected love affair that almost always has to occur in a movie of this genre. Now as for Rory Kinnear who is just such a great actor he gives it his all and you almost believe he is the Dave of the story. To be fair he is a support actor in his own story but it works extremely well and like always he is believable.
Of course “Bank of Dave” while loosely based on something that really happened has much that is made up to make the plot more expansive as well as broadening it out so that it appeals in a movie form. The reason to make up portions of the story is simple enough no matter what is behind Banks are inherently boring and have cost the global economy trillions, even with all that this is a well put together movie and I would recommend it for a watch especially on a streaming service.