Bank of Dave

Peter W Sheehan 23 May 2023

This British film tells the story of a self-made millionaire who fought to set up his own bank in a small British town. Financial institutions were not favourably disposed at all to his initiative.

BANK OF DAVE. Starring: Rory Kinnear and Joel Fry. Also, Phoebe Dynevor, Hugh Bonneville and Cathy Tyson. Directed by Chris Foggin. Rated M (Coarse language). 108 min.

This film is based on the real-life experiences of Dave Fishwick, who wanted to establish a bank in a small English town to support his local community. To do so, he had to apply for a banking licence, but first he had to satisfy financial institutions in London.

Burnley was the administrative centre of the wider Borough of Burnley in Lancashire, England, and Dave Fishwick was a car dealer, with a working class background, who became a self-made millionaire by selling vans and minibuses. With a lot of money in hand to move his vision ahead, Fishwick set up a financial institution, after much legal wrangling, that could deliver ‘better quality of life’ to his town’s community. He wrote a book in 2012 about his experiences (Bank of Dave: How I Took on the Banks), and British television has made a documentary about him.

This is a refreshing comedy film. Fishwick (Kinnear), thought about how he might beat financial bureaucrats at their own game. He wanted to support local businesses, establish jobs and create services for his home-town community, and he decided that the best thing to do was to become a bank himself. Not surprisingly, the financial systems operating in London did everything they could to prevent that happening. The film demonstrates how financial institutions often serve their own interests by forcing people, who want to use them, to follow the rules they themselves set, to ensure that financial profits are in no ways affected.

Fishwick is well portrayed by Kinnear, who brings a charismatic, infectious exuberance to the role. The film champions the under-dog and Kinnear charms as the person who takes on corporate, financial institutions. He is helped strategically by Hugh (Fry), a London lawyer, who is hired to sort things out. Hugh believes, like Dave, that banks should be accountable to the people they say they are serving, and he initially thinks Dave will certainly fail, but he expertly knows the rules that banks adopt, and he uses his knowledge about likely stumbling blocks and pitfalls to help Dave.

Director Foggin delivers a feel-good movie. Dave had money and was eminently suited to helping people in need. At times, the film paints corporate establishments as ‘obviously evil’, and local communities as all-good, but this is a movie that colourfully pits David against Goliath in a small town.

The movie lightens human spirit in bleak times, and Foggin delivers an uplifting film that is greatly assisted by good casting and an engaging, rock-musical soundtrack.

Despite the film’s fictional elements, the movie delivers an inspiring and entertaining story. It is an enjoyable film about ways to take on rich and powerful institutions in difficult times, and it is truthful enough at its core to carry positive messages that have pleasurable appeal.

Released by The Reset Collective

In cinemas: 1 June 2023