A high stakes game of corporate one-upmanship pays only modest dividends in "The Bet." Spinning on the catchy premise of two young stock market top guns betting on who can turn the highest profit in 90 days, "Wall Street"-esque morality play is well performed but hampered by severely undernourished characters.

A high stakes game of corporate one-upmanship pays only modest dividends in “The Bet.” Spinning on the catchy premise of two young stock market top guns betting on who can turn the highest profit in 90 days, “Wall Street”-esque morality play is well performed but hampered by severely undernourished characters. Helming debut by thesp Mark Lee (“Gallipoli”) looks an even money bet to attract a local distrib, but offshore odds appear significantly longer.

Apparently friendly rivals at a Sydney financial hothouse, working class boy-made-good Will (Matthew Newton) and privileged Angus (Aden Young) prove anything but agreeable once their $100,000 wager heats up. Set as a clear-cut, head-to-head battle for supremacy, screenplay then abandons Angus for long stretches. Lop-sided proceedings find Angus popping up intermittently to make a play for Will’s lawyer g.f. Tory (Sibylla Budd), while Will plays dishonest catch-up with his honest father’s life savings. Filmed primarily in close-ups and with a pallid palette, pic doesn’t offer much in the way of emotional complexity and character motivation until way too deep in proceedings. A schmaltzy strings and piano score doesn’t do the drama any favors.

The Bet

Australia

Production

A Gerrycan Prods. presentation of a Caroline Gerard production. (International sales: Gerrycan, Sydney.) Produced by Gerard. Directed by Mark Lee. Screenplay, Caroline Gerard.

Crew

Camera (Neglab color, widescreen), Hugh Miller; editor, Jason Ballantine; music, John Gray; production designer, Samuel Wilde. Reviewed at Sydney Film Festival, June 17, 2006. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Matthew Newton, Aden Young, Sibylla Budd, Roy Billing, Tim Richards, Anthony Harkin, Alyssa McClelland.

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