BANK OF DAVE is probably best described as a double rom com: two love stories, unfolding at the same time.
The first love story is pretty familiar: sad-lawyer-boy Hugh (Joe Fry) meets idealistic-doctor-girl Dr Alexandra (Phoebe Dynevor). Sparks fly: first the angry sort, then the love sort. It’s a sweet little rom com. Decidedly heart-warming, whilst managing to dodge some of the more cliché plot points in the genre.
BANK OF DAVE’s far more unique love story is the tale of David ‘Dave’ Fishwick, minibus millionaire and all-round good guy, for his town: Burnley.
Burnley, part of Lancashire, sits to the north of the British Isle. If you draw a line north from Manchester, and east from Blackpool, it sits practically where those two lines meet. It’s a four and half hour drive from London, which in WA-Speak is similar to the distance from Perth to Geraldton or Denmark.
Dave (played by Rory Kinnear) loves Burnley. He’s built a fantastic life. He’s got a wife (Nicole, played by Joanne Hartley) whom he absolutely adores, a local pub with a permanent karaoke fixture, and a thriving business. The town’s been good to him, and he’s bloody proud of it. But all around him, Burnley is falling apart.
It’s 2011, three years after the 2008 Financial Crash. The banks have been (as Dave himself might say) ‘playing silly buggers’ with other people’s money. Money that they lost. And then, since they were too big to fail, the banks were bailed out by the government, using public money. The banks took that money, gave their leaders huge bonuses, and then lobbied against the protections put in place so this wouldn’t happen again.
Forgive my opinionated exposition, but Dave will definitely tell you all about it. Ostensibly, he’s telling Hugh, the London lawyer. But it’s also a bit of unambiguous soap boxing. You see, Dave’s got a bone to pick with the banks. After all that public money, taken from the working people of Britain – yes, Dave really does speak like this, and incidentally, so does the real David Fishwick – after taking all that public money, now the banks refuse to lend it back to the very people who it was raised from.
So: Burnley is old, it’s crumbling. The banks won’t lend money to the people who live there, and the local council seems to be taking a hands-off approach to the situation. This is especially upsetting for Alexandra, the doctor with a socialist streak, because she’s trying to revitalise the hospital.
Honestly, she barely has time to flirt with the sad London lawyer, Hugh.
But Dave Fishwick has a solution. He’ll build his own damn bank! ‘The Bank of Dave’. He’s already been lending money to folk in his town. Every single one has paid him back, and on time.
Unfortunately – or fortunately, maybe? – one needs a banking license to be an actual bank. And the big banks haven’t granted a new one in 150 years. And certainly not to a bloke like Dave, who speaks with a Lancashire accent, didn’t go to the right schools, and certainly doesn’t have the right parents.
BANK OF DAVE follows the highs and lows of Dave and Hugh trying to make this bank dream a reality. And it’s tough. Hugh Bonneville and Naomi Battrick are utterly ghastly as representatives of Old Money bankers and London lawyers. A perfect foil to the straightforward good nature of Rory Kinnear’s Dave, the passion of Phoebe Dynevor’s Alexandra, and the eventual belief of Joel Fry’s Hugh.
There’s a lot to love about BANK OF DAVE. Rory Kinnear is an absolute delight. He commits fully to the Burnley accent, and the Dave persona. Every movement is enthusiastic, driven. Earnest, bordering on dorky. He is so damn excited to show Hugh the people of Burnley: the Indian restaurant, the organic makeup line, the pet grooming service, the busker on the corner. He’s a plain speaking, rather long winded man, which is occasionally uncomfortable to watch, but entirely in keeping with his character.
You know people like Dave. They’ll help you out wherever they can. And maybe that help will come with a long story about how things should be done instead, but you can’t help but be caught up by their dream of a better world.
And maybe that better world seems impossible. But then again, the real life Dave Fishwick wrote a Def Leppard concert into the script, because he’s such a fan.
BANK OF DAVE is perfect for when you just need a reminder that people do care, and things can change. A Lankashire hotpot for the soul.