Screened as part of NZIFF 2001
The Bank is likely to find appreciative audiences wherever corporate greed is an issue. The well-constructed screenplay, by first-time director Robert Connolly, previously known as a producer, will connect with anyone who ever had a bad experience with a bank or finance company, and provides a satisfyingly loathsome character in Anthony LaPaglia’s engaging portrayal of a corporate shark…
The opening sequence, set in 1977, depicts a small town bank manager visiting a country school with free gifts of piggy banks for the children. This longstanding tradition was designed to attract young savers to the kindly bank in question, which in this case is given the moniker Central Bank of Victoria. The kindly man from the bank also gives each child 50¢ to start a lifetime of saving, but only one bright youngster appears to comprehend the concept of compound interest.
Moving ahead to the present, that bright youngster, Jim Doyle, is now a computer genius who, with his Japanese partner, has developed an intricate program that can predict fluctuations in the financial market. This program he successfully sells to Simon O’Reily, the CEO of what is now called Centabank and a smooth operator being pressured by his board to cut costs and raise profits. This is being achieved by closing rural and suburban bank branches and foreclosing on dozens of small borrowers caught in the current financial downturn.
Latest victims of the bank’s drive for greater profits are Wayne and Diane Davis, who financed a houseboat operation by means of an offshore loan brokered by Centabank. The bank’s pressure on this homely couple results in tragedy involving their small son, and Wayne’s decision to have his revenge on the bank which, as he sees it, has ruined his family…
David Wenham contributes a smooth performance in the leading role… Anthony LaPaglia seizes every opportunity to enliven the role of the odious but utterly charming O’Reily, an executive who passionately believes in the survival of the fittest and the allure of gambling with other people’s money. — David Stratton, Variety, 13/5/01
At the end of the day, it’s really quite simple. I just hate banks. — Robert Connolly