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Australia 2001
Directed by
Robert Connolly
102 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

The Bank

This corporate thriller from first feature director Robert Connolly, who also developed the screenplay from an original idea by Brian Price and Mike Betar, is a taut and stylish piece of work that will particularly resonate with anti-capitalist viewers although mathematicians and propellor-heads will probably find gaping holes in the IT aspects of its David and Goliath plot (which nevertheless gives a pretext for some nicely colourful computer screens).

Having the misfortune to be released the same year as Lantana (which like this film starred Anthony LaPaglia, who picked up the Best Actor Award for that film) and Moulin Rouge, it only won an AFI award for Best Original Screenplay but it is a handsomely sophisticated production in the American manner (it manages to make Melbourne look like a typical American city more often than not, thanks to the fine camerawork by Tristan Milani, who shot The Boys, a film which was produced by Connolly and also starred Wenham) whilst Alan John's Phillip Glass-reminiscent score and Sam Petty's sound design add tellingly to the film's highly concentrated approach to its story-telling.

If LaPaglia's evil corporate (and very American) character is somewhat overdrawn David Wenham's quietly centred one makes a nice balance and lifts the film well above a mere genre exercise. The other main character, Wenhams' love interest, played by Sibylla Budd is more of a plot advancer than a dramatic presence and this also goes for the subplot about the Aussie battlers (Steve Rodgers and Mandy McElhinney) who lose their business to LaPaglia's bank. But hey, this after all is a thriller, a genre which typically glosses over the details, and, particularly when considered in the context of Australian film, it is a very satisfying one.




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