The Bank Robert Connolly

With allusions to fractal geometry and anti-bank rhetoric, this Australian production shuffles competently along to its predictable conclusion. Using computers and tablecloths, a young math genius discovers the secret to predicting the rise and fall of the stock market. He is soon in the employ of a large bank, and a top executive with dubious intentions. To its credit, the script goes to considerable lengths to explain why banks are bad (a general disregard for the welfare of its poorer clients, specifically in the form of failed foreign currency loans). But for a character on the brink of discovering the "Holy Grail of economic theory," David Wenham's performance provides very little insight into the mind of a mathematician. The blank expression he wears for most of the film might have passed for pokerfaced nuance if he'd pushed even a couple of his scenes a little further. Wenham's counterpoint, bank manager Simon O'Reilly (Anthony LaPaglia), is a more richly realised character. As a morally bankrupt executive, LaPaglia presents a consistent (and often compelling) set of convictions about the financial industry. "We have now entered the age of corporate feudalism," he argues during a moral debate with the mathematician, "and we are the new princes." Cinematographer Tristan Milani shoots LaPaglia against saturated green/blue backdrops, which lends an air of oppressive authority to the performance. But the main problem is that the twist ending is telegraphed way too early and clearly. Despite its best efforts, the story is unable to convince us that the mathematician will go against his stated moral convictions. So when a series of flashbacks finally reveal his motivations, it's seems more like a confirmation than a revelation. Plus: director's commentary and story-board comparison sequence. (Microfilms,