Dir: Alan White. Australia. 2000. 92 mins.
Prod co: MacGowan Films. Int'l sales: Beyond Films (61-2) 9281 1266. Exec prod: Marion Pilowsky. Prod: Marion MacGowan. Scr: John Armstrong, Steve Wright, based on the short story "The Adjuster" by Tracy Kidder. DoP: Simon Duggan. Prod des: Murray Picknett. Ed: Lee Smith. Mus: Don Miler-Robinson. Main cast: Bryan Brown, Tom Long, Claudia Karvan.
Risk does for the insurance industry what Wall Street did for Wall Street: it injects some sex appeal into a button-down number-crunching corporate milieu. But just as insurance is less flashy than arbitrage, Risk, while ably executed, struggles to maintain its intensity. Theatrical distribution outside of Australia seems unlikely; however, the goods are here for international TV success. Stalwart Aussie leading man Brown heads a great-looking lead trio while the flashy cars and noirish atmosphere give the package the necessary sheen.
Ben, a naïve young man (Long) joins an insurance company and finds in Kreisky, (Brown) a mentor of great success and questionable ethics. Ben is a terrible adjuster -- his impulse is to pay up at the first sign of tears -- but he is the perfect person to help legitimise Kreisky's fake claims scam, which he operates with the help of his girlfriend, Louise (Karvan), an equally crooked attorney. Soon Ben is receiving a share of the money, and of Louise. At first the story seems to follow the standard love-triangle tangent, where the younger male usurps the position of his elder, getting the woman and the money. But Louise has different plans. She turns out to be the more ambitious of the three, pushing the risk factor and eventually bringing the scheme down upon herself and her cohorts.
It's central characters are superficially attractive, as characters in such situations usually are, but the film never digs past that surface sheen to reveal the damaged souls within - they just become superficially unattractive. Still, the film is intriguing for its strong central female character and its avoidance of sentimentality. The result is ultimately satisfying: a slick urban thriller with undertones of morality.