Bank of Dave – A small town story with a pinch of heart

You’ve seen it all before, a David and Goliath tale of an underdog revolting against a giant corporate entity. This time, it’s Bank of Dave, a fight against London’s elite to help a small community financially thrive. It plods along, a biographical comedy that feels entirely unoriginal, but exactly in tune if you want a feel-good couple of hours. 

Rory Kinnear, recently recognisable for his 007 tenure as Tanner, portrays real life businessman Dave Fishwick. He’s a self-made millionaire with a bleeding heart – fresh from making a fortune selling minibuses and vans. He wants to obtain the first banking licence in over a century, all in the hopes of generating more money for the locals he loves – by opening a community bank in the town of Burnley. Kinnear brings an earnestness to the role, elevating a character that ultimately becomes as rote and trite as a broken record by the time it’s all said and done. 

It’s a message film, a message that bangs the viewer on the head with the idea that greed is not very good. It’s not particularly subtle, but with the type of film this is, it’s almost impossible not to be. The more important underlying theme is that the NHS in the UK remains severely underfunded. Phoebe Dynevor has the most enthusiasm exemplifying this, playing a youthful nurse who believes “health is a basic human right, not a privilege available to only those that can afford it”. Again, not a subtle critique, but it is well intentioned. 

The rest of the supporting cast are mainly there to pad out the legal hoops needed to achieve what Dave strives towards. Hugh Bonneville seems to thoroughly enjoy playing a corrupt fat cat, doing anything he can to keep his rich pockets lined with coins. Joel Fry spends most of his screen time running around London with a scruffy tie, scrambling to make dealings that will ensure the benefit of Burnley. Dynevor is enjoying her post Bridgerton stardom, lapping up every scene she’s in. 

Directed by Chris Foggin, notable for his recent but also feel-good comedy-drama Fisherman’s Friends, he brings a certain dampened pace to the proceedings going on. Very little of the film has a energetic rhythm. Honestly, it’s very matter of fact. This is marginally excusable considering the setting and stakes of the narrative – the economic benefit of a town doesn’t leave much room for creativity. The meetings between characters ultimately feel artificial and contrived, but not without a hint of warmth. Its charm will either wash over you or hug you tight. 

It has musical accompaniments by the band Def Leppard, a welcomed addition if you are a fan of English rock bands, but overall, Bank of Dave will probably go in one ear and out the other. Its contrived narrative feels all too familiar, but if you want a short and sweet underdog story that you’ll be able to guess every beat before it’s over, then this is a film that does that well. If you however are looking for something with a bit more bite, stopping off at the bank of Dave might leave you wanting a much larger investment. 

Bank of Dave is showing in cinemas now.

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