Desperate to prove himself, Will (Matthew Newton), a young Sydney stockbroker, makes a bet with his wealthy banker friend (Aden Young): who can make the most money in 90 days? Obsessed with winning at all costs, Will engages in illicit games - trading lies for money, until he realises that winning at all costs may mean losing more than he could ever imagine.
Review by Louise Keller:
Set in the intoxicating world of high finance, The Bet is an engrossing film about taking risks. It is clear from the start there is much more than money riding on the wager between the two central characters. We are sucked into a money hungry corporate world, where game playing and deception is commonplace and money is the only language that matters.
Effectively a contemporary dual between two men, where swords are exchanged for money, actor Mark Lee's directing debut is outstanding for many reasons. It might be low budget, but looks a million dollars with its good looking cast and beautiful cinematography showcasing Sydney as it is really is. Through tight close ups, we are taken right into the hearts of the soul-less. Funded entirely by private finance, the film is edgy and unpredictable, and jolts us through its journey. It also marks the script writing/producing debut of lawyer Caroline Gerard, who writes about a world she knows intimately. The business world has never looked so grotty, its lies, manipulation and greed tarnishing the expensive suits of the participants. Power, control and ego are like a destructive tornado.
Matthew Newton and Aden Young complement each other perfectly as Will and Angus, men from different sides of the corporate street. The hardworking stock broker and high-flying banker might exercise and drink together, but there is a clear dividing line when Will watches Angus playing polo from the sidelines. All they represent is at stake, as reputations and relationships are in the balance. All the performances are excellent with Sibylla Budd vulnerable as the lawyer who is risk averse, Tim Richards as smooth talking money-man Benno and Roy Billing as George, the film's only straight forward character.
As tense as The Bank, with its 'Greed is Good' sentiment from Wall Street, The Bet is a winner on its own terms. No two ways about it.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Written and produced by ex-corporate lawyer Caroline Gerard, The Bet does for stock traders what Robert Connolly's The Bank did for banks: ridicule their greed. With actor and short filmmaker Mark Lee of Gallipoli fame directing his first feature film, the stakes for The Bet are as high as they are in the story, where the wager starts at $100,000.
Matthew Newton and Aden Young are well cast as the feuding money buddies who finally fall out rather badly when the lying and cheating are exposed, and their character flaws unravel their nasty ways. Sibylla Budd is also excellent as the lawyer whose love Will (Matthew Newton) risks, on top of the cash bet. Tim Richards provides beefy light relief in the first half and meaty complexity in the second, and the film is blessed with outstanding cinematography from Hugh Miller and a great score by John Gray.
The characters are all grounded and real, and they are shades of grey, capable of making right and wrong decisions. The nuances and mechanics of the stockmarket at close quarters are kept manageable and the moral issues emerge naturally for our consideration.
All in all, a minor triumph; minor only in that the film's focus and its terms of reference are so tight that it tends to shut out the rest of the world. But for a small budget, privately financed film, it is really a major triumph.
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BET, THE (M)
CAST: Matthew Newton, Aden Young, Sibylla Budd, Tim Richards, Peta Sargeant, Roy Billing, Alyssa McClelland, Anthony Harkin, Paul Gleeson
PRODUCER: Caroline Gerard
DIRECTOR: Mark Lee
SCRIPT: Caroline Gerard
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hugh Miller
EDITOR: Jason Ballantine
MUSIC: John Gray
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sam Wilde
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Gerrycan Distribution
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 13, 2007