Directed by: Chris Foggin
Written by: Piers Ashworth
Starring: Rory Kinnear, Hugh Bonneville, Joel Fry, Phoebe Dynevor, Angus Wright, Paul Kaye
Released: June 1, 2023
Grade: B-

Bank of Dave

Fifteen years ago, Dave Fishwick was a self-made millionaire who had become the biggest minibus salesman in Great Britain.  Then, the Global Financial Crisis came along.  Dave’s business was fine but his customers, despite having never missed repayments previously, were struggling to get finance for new loans because banks had changed their thresholds.  So, Dave did what anyone else would do (note: sarcasm) – he started his own bank!

Burnley Savings and Loans was established in 2011 as a not-for-profit lending company to largely serve small investors and borrowers in the county of Lancashire.  It’s no threat to the major UK banks but with its catchy “Bank on Dave!” slogan, it’s challenged the negative mindset many have of financial institutions.  The company is big on “old fashioned local banking” with a focus on customer service and charity (instead of just the bottom line).

Directed by Chris Foggin (Fiserhman’s Friends), Bank of Dave is a comedic, big-hearted tale which is looooooosely based on the above events.  The protagonist’s name is appropriate because it’s framed as a David v. Goliath battle where Dave (Kinnear) teams up with a naïve city lawyer (who didn’t exist in the real story) to take on the big, nasty banks who wanted him stopped.  The film also boasts a Def Leppard cameo but again, their fundraising role in the movie is not a reflection of reality.

I wish this film wasn’t so simple and clichéd.  The good guys are very good, the bad guys are very bad, stuff about the banking system is overexplained, and there’s a tokenistic romance to try to broaden its appeal.  The dialogue is rubbish in places and would be better suited to a cheesy, American soapie.  Sometimes you can try too hard in developing a feel-good narrative and it’s a trap writer Piers Ashworth (St Trinian’s) appears to have fallen into here.

Bank of Dave will still have its supporters depending on what you’re in the mood to swallow.  Rory Kinnear (The Imitation Game) is the pick of the cast and, despite playing a successful millionaire, does a nice job creating a likeable guy worth cheering for as he takes on the villainous “establishment”.  Enjoy this movie for what it is and then do some extra reading to help separate the facts from the fiction.