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:: Risk

This is a very stylised film that tells of the lies and behind-the-scenes powerplays capable of occurring in the corporate world. Alan White (Erskineville Kings), as the director, gives us a rarely seen image of the culture of an insurance company, complete with a confident exploration and sexual intrigue associated with a company’s workings.

Following a great action-packed opening sequence, we are introduced to Ben Madigan (Tom Long), who is one of a number of trainees at the insurance company for which John Kriesky (Bryan Brown) is overseeing their introduction. Kriesky is a veteran of the trade and knows many of the tricks of the trade. He observes that Madigan is a caring, inoffensive person who may be all too nice for the sometimes-ruthless insurance business. As Kriesky has been instrumental in saving the company millions of dollars, he sees Madigan as a probable pawn for an idea. Because of his inexperience at the caper, Madigan is shown to be, through test cases, too agreeable in meeting requested claims. Kriesky sets him up to talk to disputed policyholders so that claims don’t have to go to court. There is a typical example when he and Kriesky go and visit a claimant to decide on their case.

Madigan is then introduced to Louise Roncoli (Claudia Karvan) who helps out Kriesky. Madigan is to be their partner in the subtle art of adjusting claims as a money-saving mechanism. He is kind-hearted enough to ensure that the objectives are met. He piles through the claims with the savings funding a series of fake claims set up by Louise. After a while, Madigan realises that he has been doing all this work for no additional pay, and that others in the office have passed him in the promotion stakes. He begins to suspect something uneasy. Louise starts to take a liking to him as a means of wresting control over Kriesky. She draws Madigan into a world of insurance scame with other players, which lead to dramatic consequences.

White strikes the right visual style with showing some of Sydney’s intriguing views amongst the stylish corporate world. The story is fresh and attention-grabbing, due to the fine lead cast and the fact that the subject matter is interesting to the general public. Tom Long plays a terrific role as Ben Madigan, a young man who grows out of initial naivety and sweetness, like his character in “The Dish”, into someone more substantial in the bigger picture. Claudia Karvan is one of Australia’s fine actresses. Here, with her sexuality very evident, she is ruthless and plays the sexual politics game well. It’s a darker role than normal for her. Bryan Brown makes the film entertaining with his rough, laconic charm and wit. He can perform these types of roles with ease and he is always good to watch.

“Risk” provides the necessary thrills and edginess for entertaining its audience. Alan White gives us something that Australian filmmakers aren’t accustomed to develop and he executes his storyline well. The main focus – the relationship between the three main characters – is interesting, because of the actors’ quality, and makes for entertaining viewing. Like other recent Australian films, it has a certain value to endear it to wider audiences.

Screening on general release including the Rivoli Cinemas, and Cinema Nova