David Wenham, star of “The Boys,” Connolly's first full-length film as a producer, stars as computer geek Jim Doyle, an econometrics graduate with an unorthodox habit of working out equations on tablecloths. Doyle is offered a high-powered job in Melbourne by Centabank CEO Simon O'Reilly (“The House Of Mirth's” Anthony LaPaglia) to set up a computer program predicting changes in the international market. His first days at work go well, and he embarks on an affair with a pretty co-worker (Sibylla Budd, previously seen on the small screen in the Australian twentysomething soap “The Secret Life Of Us”) but when Centabank loses face in a court case, O'Reilly calls upon Doyle for morally questionable practices unspecified in his job description.
This classy Aussie drama approaches commerce in a similar manner to “Erin Brockovich” and “Wall Street,” pitting money against morality, ambition against honesty, and the individual against the institution. Wenham is quietly charismatic as the increasingly mysterious protagonist, while LaPaglia enjoys the lion's share of the best lines as the Gordon Gekko-esque mercenary. (“I'm like God,” he claims, “only with a better suit.”) Connolly's self-penned script strikes a good balance of comic and dramatic elements, avoiding for the most part the soupy sentimentality suggested by a subplot involving a family whose fortunes suffer at the hands of the bank. Satirical and quietly comical throughout, there are also several laugh-out-loud scenes: “Shouldn't we get to know each other first?” inquires the cautious Doyle, returning home with his enthusiastic date. “What if we don't like each other?” she replies, reaching for his pants.
The film's scientific jargon and suit talk may at times be rather complicated but Connolly is always quick to convey the all-important information through snappy, easily understood visuals. A stylish exercise, albeit with a rather simplistic message, “The Bank” also has a marvelous conspiratorial score from Alan John and is definitely worth investing a couple of hours in. Starring David Wenham, Anthony LaPaglia and Sibylla Budd. Directed and written by Robert Connolly. Produced by John Maynard and Domenico Procacci. A Cinema Guild release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 104 min.