Bank of Dave, now streaming on Netflix, is based on a true-life story about Dave Fishwick from Burnley, who wanted to open his own community bank. With some great performances, it’s hard not to like this heart-warming story, that is until you find out that most of what you see on screen isn’t true.
The film follows lawyer Hugh Stockwell (Joel Fry), a hotshot from London who has been told “never to travel outside of the M25”, yet is coerced by his boss Clarence (Angus Wright) to travel north to Burnley in Lancashire to meet a client who wants to open his own bank. After meeting some of the colourful locals, Hugh arrives at the business premises of Dave Fishwick (Rory Kinnear), a local businessman and self-made millionaire. After helping a number of locals and their businesses with loans with a 100% success rate, Dave has decided he wants to open a community bank to help fund and support more local businesses. The only problem is that the country’s financial institutions have not granted a new banking licence in over a century.
Hugh informs Dave that the likelihood of him being granted a banking licence is non-existent, which Dave calmly reveals he is aware of – his goal is to force the elitist banking institutions to publicly admit their failings and tell the country why a working-class, man of the people is not suitable to run a bank. With Hugh on his side and with support from his wife Nicola (Jo Hartley) and niece Alexandra (Phoebe Dynevor), Dave works to pull together the paperwork for his bank while the financial institutions, including the devious Sir Charles Denby (Hugh Bonneville), work to thwart his every move.
My main reason for watching this film is that Burnley is not far from where I live and I can never resist something local. The Lancastrian aspects of Bank of Dave are incredibly well done and it was really nice to see Burnley on the big screen. There’s something very satisfying about seeing northerners depicted accurately and seeing places familiar to me highlighted in a good light. It’s helped by a fantastic northern cast including Bridgerton’s Manchester-born Phoebe Dynevor. While not being northern, Rory Kinnear puts on a brilliant performance and accent as Dave and Paul Kaye too as music manager Rick Purdey is a welcome addition. Joel Fry is also a great choice as leading man Hugh and it’s really good to see him in a lead role.
The whole film is a wonderful feel-good experience that has you rooting for Dave from the very start, and I think it’d be difficult for anyone to not smile watching this. It might be a little slow and drawn out at times and has some rather unnecessary scenes that don’t really add much to the overall plot, but it’s still enjoyable. My biggest issue with this film came afterwards when I discovered that the majority of the story isn’t true or has been fabricated for the purposes of the film. While I won’t reveal the details to spoil it for anyone else, this discovery has detracted and slightly spoilt my enjoyment of the film in general. I know it shouldn’t but it’s frustrating to enjoy something and then find out most of the feel-good aspects aren’t true.
Overall this is a feel-good, entertaining film full of northern charm and some great performances. It’s just a shame that it’s not quite as true a story as it claims.
Where to Watch
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!