Bank of Dave is an engaging and entertaining Netflix biopic

by 24britishtvJan. 16, 2023, 2:20 p.m. 16
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Let's face it, it's all a bit depressing these days – and we're not talking about the January blues. We're talking about the news being filled with the continuing cost-of-living crisis and the NHS struggling, among other things.

When you hear Netflix and true story in the same sentence, you could be bracing yourself for another bleak tale of a horrible crime. However, its latest real-life movie Bank of Dave couldn't be further from that, and could prove the gentle heartwarming tonic to everything else out there.

The biopic tells the "true(ish) story" (as the movie puts it) of self-made millionaire Dave Fishwick who, following the 2008 financial crisis, fought to set up a community bank to help the people in his local community in Burnley.

After lending money at reduced rates to customers at his minibus company and local businesses, Dave was asked by them to reinvest any profits for them. It gave him an idea to create a local bank that uses local money for local businesses, but there was just one stumbling block: a banking licence hasn't been issued for 150 years in the UK.

If you've come to Bank of Dave wanting to know the whole truth about Dave's excellent work, then the movie might not be the best place to start. For that, you could watch either of the Channel 4 documentaries that followed Dave's quest to set up his bank in Burnley, or you could read this.

What you get with Bank of Dave instead is his story told through classic underdog tropes with a liberal helping of creative licence. So Dave's battle ends up involving a boo-hiss villain in elite snob Sir Charles Denbigh (Hugh Bonneville), a dramatic court battle and a last-minute fundraising concert featuring actual Def Leppard.

None of that really happened and, in real life, Dave is still battling to make his business a UK regulated bank. But that'd be a bit of a downer to end on so the movie chooses to fantasise a bit and make the tale more heartwarming. It works a treat due to Rory Kinnear's affable charm, making Dave the kind of bloke you'd love to have a beer with.

If there's any complaint to be had, it's that the movie doesn't spend as much time with Dave as you'd want. Instead, the focus often shifts to Joel Fry's solicitor Hugh, who gets swept up into Dave's world, fighting for his cause with the London bigwigs and falling for Dave's niece Alexandra (Bridgerton's Phoebe Dynevor).

Fry can do awkward loveable nerd in his sleep and has an endearing chemistry with Dynevor, so there's nothing wrong with this switch of focus. It's just that the movie could have benefitted from more of Dave's work in the local community, especially as an early montage of him taking Hugh around Burnley is such a joy.

Even though you know the story has been embellished for the screen, it's hard not to be swept along with Dave's triumphs. It might be fictional, but seeing the 'little guy' triumphing over the elitist corporations will always raise a smile (possibly because we know it probably wouldn't happen that way in real life).

Bank of Dave won't be the type of movie that'll trouble any best of year lists, but as an entertaining and well-performed biopic, it effectively raises the spirits in these bleak January days.

Bank of Dave is available to watch now on Netflix.

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