“We’ve got one thing on our side…everybody hates bankers.” This is the constant refrain through Bank of Dave, a true(ish) story about how a self-made Burnley businessman fought against City finance snobbery to set up his own local bank.
The ‘true’ parts, starring Rory Kinnear as the titular Dave Fishwick are fascinating. But, on to the ‘ish’.
What Is Bank of Dave About?
The formula is that very British staple: underdog story with a liberal dash of rom-com. Opening with a pub karaoke scene to drive home his ‘down to earth’ character, we see Dave receive the last payment back from a local businessman who has just won a great contract thanks to Dave’s financial support.
Micro-loans to those who the major banks won’t lend to result in full repayment and local business booming it seems, and Dave’s mind starts whirring.
Kinnear is excellent as Dave. The ‘salt of the earth self-made man’ approach could easily have rankled considering Dave has worked himself up to a lovely big house and very successful business.
Yet Kinnear plays him with a perfectly judged mixture of ordinary bloke done good combined with a twinkle of showmanship and ego that makes his well-earned success totally believable.
However, the movie spends relatively little time with Dave. Our focal point for the story is instead London lawyer Hugh (Joel Fry, Yesterday) who helps Dave with the paperwork required to become the first new bank approved in 150 years.
Sceptical and rather run down, Hugh goes through a predictable arc of being won over by life in t’north whilst also becoming enamoured with Dave’s daughter (played by Phoebe Dynevor, Bridgerton).
Fry’s slumped frame, cowed head, and muted delivery drag out many of his scenes. Just as we get pumped up to enjoy the Dave vs Goliath battle (represented in part by a wonderfully snooty fatcat, Hugh Bonneville), the ‘action’ shifts into the necessary steps to get Fry’s rom-com going.
Plus who doesn’t love a ‘nur nur’ courtroom scene where someone else can’t handle the truth?
Is Bank of Dave Worth Watching?
Dynevor and Fry are pleasant enough company – and certainly appreciation for rockers Def Leppard warms Hugh up – but their low stakes always feel like a distraction, especially considering they never experience any real conflict to shake up their plotline.
Bank of Dave has a warm charm infused through it all that, for the most part, wins out over any perfunctory screen filler.
That Dave is fully aware he is unlikely to succeed but simply wants the Financial Services Authority to tell him to his face why he isn’t ‘the right sort of chap’ makes for an indisputable ‘speak truth to power’ message.
Dave’s journey, despite the rather liberal ‘ish’ parts of the true story (Google the ending once it happens…), is a fun one to watch and Kinnear’s ‘spade a spade’ persona is great to spend time with.
And, don’t forget, you are on to a winner because who does everyone hate…?
Words by Mike Record