Gemma Creagh cashes out of this underdog comedy.
“Everybody hates bankers,” this is a line of dialogue, a plotpoint and the entire theme of Bank of Dave, all rolled into one. This film wholeheartedly continues the longstanding tradition of deeply sincere British underdog films, featuring heartwarming locals, the local pub – and no mention of divisive political views or Brexit whatsoever.
Awkward and skilled London lawyer Hugh (Joel Fry) is instructed to venture outside the capital by his cartoonishly brash boss Clarence (Angus Wright). His firm’s new client is hoping to open a small, local bank in Northern England to serve the local community. From the get go, Hugh believes the task to be impossible,this would be the first new banking licence to be issued in over 100 years. Plus, he’s under orders to bill the client for as many hours as possible. Yet soon after Hugh’s arrival in Burnley, self-made, working class businessman Dave (Rory Kinnear) introduces Hugh to all the members of the community he’s helped. Witnessing success story after success story, Hugh starts to believe in the cause.
Upon discovering Dave’s plan of opening this small enterprise, the financial sector’s powers that be – all older white men in sharp suits in high end Board rooms – try everything they can to shut this operation down. Sparks begin to fly between Hugh and Dave’s niece, Alexandra (Phoebe Dynevor). She’s a feisty doctor and socialist, whose goal is to open a free clinic once the new bank is up and running. As Dave and Hugh start the procese, little do they know sinister planning is afoot. Can the pair take on the elitist financial institutions of London – and win?
Technically, this film is without any obvious fault; it’s well shot, skilfully crafted and conceptually delivers all that it promises. The performances are solid, Fry and Kinnear have chemistry, and Kinnear does a great job of channelling his inner Karl Pilkington. The pacing and structure work overall; it even features musical cameos from local Burnley musicians the Goa Express as well as Def Leppard for the music aficionados. In fact, a concert was written into the movie because the real life Dave is such a fan of the band himself. However, Bank of Dave does lack a satisfying degree of depth when it comes to both the characters and the plot.
The worlds are black and white. London is a soul crushing hellscape of tall glass buildings, and slick, chrome wine bars featuring whiny manipulative alcoholics who’ll steal your documents. Then, nestled in green rolling hills, working class Burnley is filled with honest socialist folk who’ll clap enthusiastically to your terrible cover. From the eighties rock, to two men sticking it to the “man” – in many ways, this film channels that Hallmark energy and structure, but repackaged to appeal to a more masculine audience.
The boat might not be rocked, nor the wheel reinvented, but at least it delivers exactly on the tin.
Bank of Dave In is available to stream from 20th January 2023.