Dir: Alan White. Australia. 2000. 90mins.
Award-winning commercials and music video director AlanWhite made his 1999 feature debut with the grittily realistic ErskinevilleKings, set in a crumbling inner-suburban Sydney. With Risk he visitsthe top end of town - ritzy apartments, sleek corporate offices with powerfulcityscape views - but fails to deliver the freshness and dramatic weight thatmade Kings such a critical success.
For all its visual elegance, Risk is rooted in a1980s get-rich-at-all-cost sensibility with an overfamiliar corruption-of-the-innocentplot. It's quite a disappointment from White and from producer Marian Macgowan,whose last film was the award-winning Two Hands.
Ben (Long) is a wide-eyed recruit to an insurance companyspecialising in personal injury claims. His jaded boss Kreisky (Brown) takes aninterest in him, recognising Tom's "great talent" - the "innocent look thatmakes people believe you". Kreisky's current scam (he calls it an"experiment"), in partnership with his glamorous solicitor girlfriend Louise(Karvan), involves skimming 20% off any disputed injury claims that clients canbe persuaded to settle out of court. Tom proves adept at dealing with even themost poignantly damaged clients, but his naive attention is easily captured bythe leggy Louise who is pushing Kreisky into bigger, riskier, gangster-infestedclaims.
All three leads acquit themselves well - especially Karvanas the enigmatic, out-of-control Louise - but they have to carry the developingrelationships, the insurance details and the complexities of the scam withoutmuch help. There's a tightly-budgeted space around them: offices areunderpopulated and important characters such as their superiors, theinvestigators and Louise's gangsters go largely unexplored. Anexcitingly-staged final car chase and multiple pile-up on a main inner-Sydneymotorway loses impact because plotting and motivations are unclear.
Prod co: Beneficiary Films. Int'l sales: Beyond FilmsInternational. Prod: Marian Macgowan. Scr: John Armstrong, Steve Wright.Cinematographer: Simon Duggan. Prod des: Murray Picknett. Ed: Lee Smith. Music:Don Miller-Robinson. Main cast: tBryan Brown, Tom Long, Claudia Karvan