A brisk, cynical account of a pretty convincing insurance scam pulled off by an attractive, corrupt trio, "Risk" is a cold film about cold people in a cold world. Second feature by commercials and musicvid whiz kid Alan White ("Erskineville Kings") turns the narrative screws tight as it tells a potentially complicated story with coherence and plausibility, but charges too relentlessly down a narrow track to make viewers care about its corporate-criminal characters. Off its native turf, neatly made and acted item looks better suited to the small screen and vid than to significant theatrical release.

A brisk, cynical account of a pretty convincing insurance scam pulled off by an attractive, corrupt trio, “Risk” is a cold film about cold people in a cold world. Second feature by commercials and musicvid whiz kid Alan White (“Erskineville Kings”) turns the narrative screws tight as it tells a potentially complicated story with coherence and plausibility, but charges too relentlessly down a narrow track to make viewers care about its corporate-criminal characters. Off its native turf, neatly made and acted item looks better suited to the small screen and vid than to significant theatrical release.

In cahoots with his slinky solicitor/girlfriend, Louise (Claudia Karvan), an obdurate Sydney insurance vet (Bryan Brown in engagingly Michael Caine-ish mode) ensnares greenhorn Ben (Tom Long) in a scheme to skim money from disputed claims settled at reduced rates and use this coin to fund “accidents” and fake claims. But when cokehead Louise seduces Ben and demands a bigger cut, the plan predictably spins out of control. Pic’s dynamic movement makes for a decent ride, but characters are too defined by their greed to create much meaningful human drama.

Risk

Australia

Production

A Roadshow Film Distributors release (in Australia) of a Macgowan and Beneficiary Films production in association with the Australian Film Finance Corp., the Premiere Movie Partnership and the New South Wales Film & Television Office. (International Sales: Beyond Films Intl., Sydney.) Produced by Marian Macgowan. Executive producer, Marion Pilowsky. Directed by Alan White. Screenplay, John Armstrong, Steve Wright, based on the short story "The Adjustor" by Tracy Kidder.

Crew

Camera (Atlab color), Simon Duggan; editor, Lee Smith; music, Don Miller-Robinson; production designer, Murray Picknett; costume designer, Margot Wilson. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 14, 2000. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Bryan Brown, Tom Long, Claudia Karvan, Jason Clarke, Brian Meegan, Bob Baines, Kim Knuckey, Thomas Clunie, Sharin Contini, Wayne Pygram.
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