Netflix’s Bank of Dave Review: A Feel-good Timely True Story

Netflix’s Bank of Dave Review: A Feel-good Timely True Story

Finding financial freedom from the big banks and championing the community circular economy seem to be fairly mainstream ideas in 2022 with decentralized cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and bitcoin Banking startups like Monzo disrupting traditional methods of banking and placing the emphasis on empowering the “damned of man” to manage your money.

But over a decade ago, the first new banking license in Britain in 150 years was awarded to a local businessman, Dave Fishwick, of Burnley, Lancashire, in northern England, and it rocked Britain’s elite, London-based banking industry. And it wasn’t about greed — Fishwick wanted to start his own bank to support his community in the wake of the global financial crisis and beyond.


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Well this in time(Opens in a new window) The David vs. Goliath story was made into a Netflix film filmed and starring in Burnley itself menOur flag means death, and James Bond franchise star Rory Kinnear in the title role — if you watch any interviews with Fishwick(Opens in a new window) After seeing the movie you will see that he did a great job. He has joined Bridgeton lead Phoebe Dynevor and game of Thrones/Down in the soil Star Joel Fry, in a true feel-good story about sticking to the institutions and finding a different way of doing things.

Is Netflix Bank of Dave A true story?

Bank of Dave is based on the true story of businessman Dave Fishwick, who wanted to open his own bank to support the people of Burnley during a time of economic turmoil. Fishwick, a successful owner of minivan dealerships, would eventually open Burnley Savings and Loans(Opens in a new window), in September 2011, managed to get its first new banking license in 150 years – but not after an uphill battle against the long-established, overblown London-based banking sector. And while it’s not technically a bank yet, but an “independent lending business”,(Opens in a new window) Fishwick now runs the Bank of Dave in Burnley.

After the global financial crisis of the late 2000s left communities in the UK in dire straits and the recession raged across the country, Fishwick’s clients were struggling to make payments, so he began lending them his own money – a total of over 1 million pounds. He then began making loans to neighborhood families and small businesses, all of which were unable to get the same loans from banks. “For all sorts of reasons, the bank wouldn’t touch her,” Kinnear’s Fishwick says in the film. Every one of Fishwick’s loans has been repaid, and clients even asked him to invest their money, which required accreditation – and here the Netflix film begins.

Fishwick wrote a book about his experiences, Bank of Dave: How I took on the banks(Opens in a new window)and Channel 4 made a documentary about it in 2012. The Netflix film was directed by Chris Foggin, who previously worked on Edgar Wright’s film The end of the world, found meaningful ways to extract elements from the true story – of course, as the credits tell you, “characters, events and dialogue have been fictionalized to increase dramatic impact.”

“Bank of Dave” is full of understated, highly convincing performances.

For the Netflix film Fishwick’s Experience, Kinnear enjoys the title role as Dave, a sort of “heart and soul” of his community. He regularly enjoys karaoke at the local pub at night, and by day he’s dropping the crap, monologues about economic privilege and the UK government using taxpayers’ money to bail out banks during the recession. Of both, he is supported by his smart, accomplished wife Nicola (Jo Hartley) and smart, accomplished niece Alexandra (Phoebe Dynevor).

A couple leans over a cash register and looks at each other.

Jo Hartley as Nicola Fishwick and Rory Kinnear as Dave Fishwick.
Photo credit: Netflix

Fishwick’s plan is a new model designed to compete with banks’ long-established framework, one that takes deposits from local people and invests them back into the community. Fishwick’s goal is for the board of the Finance Commission to publicly admit that it refuses to accredit the Bank of Dave “because I’m not in their club. I’m not among the elite at Eton and Oxford. I want them to say that the same people who just lost £500 billion are the only ones who are entitled to look after our money.” The banks throw anything at Dave to throw him off his target, including deliberately unachievable ones institutional hurdles, and all the while the film explores the strings Fishwick’s friends pulled in the community to help one of their own do something that benefits everyone.

Two men in suits face each other in an aristocratic bar.

Joel Fry as Hugh Stockwell and Hugh Bonneville as Sir Charles Denbigh.
Photo credit: Netflix

Dave isn’t the only protagonist, with Fry’s delightfully bumbling character Hugh, Dave’s posh London lawyer, seeing the most significant arc. Bringing his inner-city aspirations to Burnley, Hugh is amazed by Dave’s charitable nature, who genuinely wants to improve the quality of life in the community, and reports his findings to his boss, Clarence. He is played by Angus Wright as the hilariously cartoonish Big City Lawyer who, despite Fishwick’s charitable intentions, charges “full weight” for the firm’s services. On the other side, snobbish banking expert Sir Charles Denbigh (played by Hugh Bonneville with silent poison) with “friends in high places” puts obstacles in Dave’s path to keep the money in the hands of “the right kind of guy”.

“It’s one thing that rich foreign corporations are trying to localize our business, we know how to deal with these guys,” says Bonneville’s Sir Charles. “But once…ordinary people start thinking that they can actually jump in, the floodgates will open.”

As he gradually immerses himself in Burney’s community, Hugh finds another reason to invest in his work – yes, it’s the requisite love story. But thankfully, it’s an extremely suave and lovable romance.

A doctor faces a lawyer in a hospital.

Joel Fry and Phoebe Dyvenor in Bank of Dave.
Photo credit: Netflix

Bridgeton‘s Dyvenor plays a different but similarly factual role as her Regency-era heroine as Dr. Alexandra Ashforth, Burnley’s leather-jacketed doctor, who is trying to relieve hospitals and GPs and avoid long emergency waits by opening an ambulance, initially funded by the government’s National Health Service. Like Dave and Nicola and the other Burnley residents, Alexandra’s character takes Hugh and the audience by the hand and guides them through the community, allowing the director to explore other elements of Burnley beyond Dave’s business, from Alexandra’s job at the hospital to the perfect Place for a date at a local music venue.

have everything in Bank of Dave happen?

Of course there is a poetic license here, but the bones are real. While Fry’s lawyer character Hugh was created for the film(Opens in a new window), Fishwick had attorneys to help him with his applications. And while Fishwick was actually pushed back by financial pundits(Opens in a new window)Bonneville’s character by Sir Charles Denbeigh is also fictional(Opens in a new window).

Sheffield rock icons Def Leppard star in the film, although in real life they didn’t put on a concert to raise funds to start the Bank of Dave. But this epic moment makes the film feel like British feel-good music films The Full Monty or the latest from Netflix I used to be famouswhere people do whatever they have to face the system and do something for themselves and their community and then have a big dance.

Probably the realest part of the story Bank of Dave contains a significant amount of dry paperwork, which is the real fight Fishwick had on his hands, but it’s somehow delivered without putting the audience to sleep. Conversations at the kitchen table, in pubs, in cafés are fueled by legal details as well as those that take place in Bethnall and Green’s fictional offices.

But beyond the details Bank of Dave is a classic David and Goliath tale, about a local entrepreneur who takes on the fat cats of Big Finance to help his community. It’s not a tale of fantasy, horror, or far-flung adventure, it’s about standing up for the local community and challenging a system designed to keep the rich and powerful stronger and preserving their monopoly. And it was released in the midst of the UK’s cost of living crisis(Opens in a new window). Imagine that.

Bank of Dave now streaming on Netflix in the UK, with US release date TBC.(Opens in a new window)

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