Centabank is the financial corporation that brings together the interwoven strands of Robert Connollys impressive Australian feature debut The Bank. The film opens with schoolboy Jim Doyle (David Wenham) getting his first taste for financial mathematics as he presses a financial advisor visiting his country schoolroom to justify the talk on investment that hes giving them. We next meet an adult Doyle working with a Japanese hacker friend on sophisticated mathematical software to predict the weather. They surmise that having managed to master the weather it must be possible to develop their software to predict financial market movements. They take their scheme to Centabank chief executive Simon OReilly (Anthony LaPaglia) who, unbeknownst to them, is under pressure from his board to improve results. Lamenting the fact that all he does is to make money by cutting jobs and branches, OReilly is desperate for a way to improve profitability and make his mark as a man. Doyle meets bank executives and they agree to collaborate in the development of a high tech, ultra-secret effort to develop the software to a point where the bank can use it to illegally position itself to profit from an expected crash. Romantic interest is added when as strikes up an affair with bank employee Michelle (Sibylla Budd). While all this is going on, houseboat owners Wayne, Diane and their son live are in dire financial straits and trying to avoid having eviction notices. Eventually a Centabank employee serves a notice to their small boy and he is subsequently found drowned. They decide to fight the bank and the plots start to converge as Doyle is forced into compromising himself as Centabank faces them in the courts.
The Bank is a highly enjoyable thriller with deeper social overtones. It is showing us a world where corporations are becoming all powerful and the men within them are driven by overwhelming ambitions that leave no room for home or love lives. David Wenham and Anthony LaPaglia both give fine performances as desperately ambitious men. Sibylla Budd is perfect for her role as a romantic and human foil for Doyle. Unfortunately shes chosen a man with other things on his mind and if theres any quibble with this film its that the relationship between them could have been explored a little more fully. Otherwise, cinematographer Tristan Milani has done a fine job and the film has some impressive computer graphics including a visual flight into the world of chaos theory and Mandelbrot sets. If we are disappointed by the lack of intimacy between the characters, then what did we expect? Shouldnt we get to know one another first? Doyle asks Michelle as they tear their clothes off. What if we dont like one another? she responds.