There are movies that are based on true stories which truly captivate an audience and move them, and then there are movies based on true stories which are just not that engaging or interesting and bring forth a film that feels like a wasted opportunity. This is not to say that Chris Foggin’s newest feature, Bank of Dave, is the latter, but based on how mundane and almost anticlimactic the film comes off as, it would be easy to assume there were no creative liberties taken throughout the film, and, thusly, anything remotely shocking or engaging goes out the window considering the subject matter itself. Stories like this presumably would’ve made the news, too (it is possible it did, just not largely in North America, or that it got buried because of the subject matter), but ultimately the story is a little too nice and wrapped up with a pretty bow for audiences to fully get invested into this man’s journey to try and eliminate the one percent.
The film mostly focuses on Dave (Rory Kinnear), Hugh (Joel Fry), and Alexandra (Phoebe Dynevor) as they’re trying to navigate life after the 2008 market crash. Dave is a self-made millionaire from selling buses and vans during his life, and when he is informed that his long-time customers and people he’d even consider friends cannot take loans out from the bank due to the current political climate, he decides to loan them the money himself. This leads him to the idea of wanting to create a community bank so he can help his town, his friends, and make life just more manageable for the people he cares about, because he knows if he wasn’t given the opportunities he had already procured in life, he wouldn’t be in the situation he’s in to help the people he cares about. However, since doing something like this is rather unheard of, this is where Hugh comes into play as a rather good guy persona but ultimately is interested in preventing this community bank from happening. Of course, like every cheesy feel-good story, Hugh manages to set his sights on Alexandra, Dave’s niece, and his arm becomes a little easier to twist with her factored into the situation.
The movie itself is one which pegs corporate greed, and greed overall, as a negative (which it is), but tells the story of a true underdog. Sure, there is adversity and lots of hoops and obstacles that Dave has to jump through, and it probably, in reality, was as clean and non-messy as the movie makes it out to be, but, for a movie, it just creates a rather dull bureaucratic story that isn’t engaging the audience the way it is intended to. Sometimes the best true stories should maybe become documentaries, especially the ones where the truth will presumably not be fabricated, there needs to be some pizazz to keep the audience engaged throughout.
However, the one saving grace of Bank of Dave is that our leading man, Dave, played by Rory Kinnear (Skyfall), is excellent and brings a load of heart and panache to the role and really gets the audience rooting for him. He has the characteristics almost of Ted Lasso, and the audience finds it easy to rally behind Dave, wanting him to succeed. However, Phoebe Dyvenor (Fair Play) and Joel Fry (Cruella) feel like a movie-of-the-week style romance of will they/wont they and how will Dave get involved that just muddles the character developments and plays a rather meandering subplot that has some rather crucial moments to the overall film.
Bank of Dave tells the underdog story of one man’s journey to change the financial system in the time of an economic crash and his wish to save his town and friends from hardship. However, without knowing the full story and the facts, if there is nothing fictionalized, or the juicy drama was removed, makes a filmed version of this story a meandering plot that cannot deliver on the heart of the story itself. While the leading man certainly packs a punch and delivers a performance that audiences can rally behind, it unfortunately is not enough to keep the audiences engaged throughout to find out if the Bank of Dave became a reality.
In theaters and on digital August 25th, 2023.
For more information, head to the official Samuel Goldwyn Films Bank of Dave webpage.
Final Score: 3 out of 5.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.