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  • Colin Fraser


THREE STARS Dave wants to open a community bank in the town of Burnley, but regulators in London want none of it.


Starring Rory Kinnear, Joel Fry

There’s a formula to British heart-warmers like this story of a chap who fought the establishment to open his own bank. The film is based on a true story, or at least, some parts of a true story. It requires an underdog who’s from somewhere that isn’t London. It centers on a protagonist who’s from somewhere else that probably is London, he (it’s always a he) works in an industry most of us despise and he has a conversion, usually involving a love interest, usually involving the small town/village the story’s set in, and it always involves the underdog who always wins him over.

And so it is in BANK OF DAVE. Dave (Rory Kinnear) is the chap, a popular and successful salesman who lives in Burnley, the most disadvantaged city in the UK. He wants to open a bank for his community, for people that are routinely rejected by established financial institutions. He knows those people are good for the money because he’s already lent out the best part of a million quid in personal loans. Not one person has defaulted. But to go big he has to open a bank, and that means he has to take on the city and get a licence.

Enter Hugh (Joel Fry), a lawyer from London whom Dave has hired to get him the banking license. Hugh doesn’t like the north, he doesn’t like Burnley and he knows Dave doesn’t have a chance. But before you can say ‘Def Leppard and a charity concert’, Dave has won him over. So has Dave’s niece, and all the good, honest and charitable hearts of Burnley. Thus Hugh joins the fight, more than happy to stick it to the Eaton-Oxford types who have a strangle hold on a self-serving industry that nearly brought down the country, and one that most of us despise.

Not for second does director Chris Foggin stray from the same formula he charted in the awkwardly predictable FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS. While BANK OF DAVE lacks the natural beauty of FRIENDS (try as they might to window dress Burnley, it’s still, well, Burnley), the results are much more agreeable thanks largely to Kinnear’s energetic presence and, to a lesser extent, Fry’s hang-dog charm. And that's despite Foggin’s pedestrian approach, soggy pacing, contrived plot turns and more than one underwritten scene.

All of which sounds like an underwhelming experience, yet it isn't. While BANK OF DAVE is not going to win any awards, there’s enough warmth and positivity lurking in the formula that you’ll be hard pressed not to be completely won over by Dave, Hugh and the townsfolk of Burnley. On top of that, they stick it to the banks. And who among us doesn't enjoy watching that?



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