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ROGUE TRADER

SYNOPSIS:
The fact-based story of young banker Nick Leeson (Ewan McGregor), a small-town boy made good, who is sent to the Jakarta office of the venerable Barings Bank in 1995, as the Asian Tiger begins to stir fry the economy. It looks very rosy, and then gets better as London sends him a pretty blonde assistant, Lisa (Anna Friel) - he falls in love and marries. When he is relocated to Singapore, the new form of trading in stock 'futures' is a growing part of the business conducted through the Singapore money exchange for the bank's clients. A mistake by Nick's team - part of the learning process - leads him to do a bit of secretive mopping up, incurring debts which he hopes will soon be balanced by the natural movement of the market. It isn't, and like a gambler who keeps doubling the bet in the desperate hope that luck will change in time, Nick continues to keep his reputation as a brilliant trader while escalating awesome debts. His employers never knew what hit them when the final crunch comes.

"Like most stories drawn from real life, this is a ripper, fascinating for both the clumsiness with which the venerable bank acted and the innocence with which Leeson robbed it of a billion dollars - none of which he got to see. The problem with turning this story into a drama (never mind it coinciding with Leeson's release from Singapore prison in the latter half 1999) is a combination of elements that resist the filmmakers' efforts. Lord David Frost picked up the film rights after interviewing Leeson in jail, but then made the mistake of wanting to turn it into a revisionist dramatic movie, instead of a documentary-based drama. Director James Dearden turned Leeson into Everyman, changing his character, even his physicality, saying "Most people probably wouldn't identify with the real Nick." Well, that in itself is an intrinsic part of this story. As McGregor says, "Okay, I don't have a bald patch on the back of my head and I'm not 16 stone like the real person . . ." Therein lies the problem; two problems. McGregor brings with him his characteristic 'lad' image, and while he is as good as you'd want in the role, the second problem defeats him before he starts. He is too much the Everyman, and not the unique individual that Nick Leeson is. So the whole human interest point of wanting to tell the story is lost. The story is there, but we have lost its central figure behind the sham of dramatic compromise. The script becomes repetitive with money trading jargon and the complexities of the fated deal that Leeson is building - all the while being celebrated as a brilliant trader. At least that irony remains intact."
Andrew L. Urban

"Truth has a funny way of usually being stranger than fiction, and this fascinating insight into the nave, optimistic world of Nick Leeson is full of surprises. True, this tale might have been told differently, but I found myself intrigued by the human elements to such an extent, that I embraced the storytelling method and hungrily joined the punters. The volatile backdrop of playing the money index is a little like being centre stage at a fight. It's tense, the pressure cooks, the anticipation hums, the highs are towering, the lows are devastating. There's one scene that represents its very essence: Leeson and colleagues are fearlessly speeding in a sparkling, new Porsche convertible up a one way street, but they're going the wrong way. Here is fearless risk-taking epitomised with a flourish. Bravado with balls, you could say. Or foolishness perhaps. Rogue Trader is really a story about dreams and selling them. It's about ambition, but not for greed's sake. The need to prove oneself, not solely to impress, but rather not to disappoint. Casting is immaculate, with Ewan McGregor satisfying as Leeson, ambitious, ruthless, yet ripe with the larrikin spirit. Anna Friel counteracts beautifully, and there's a stark contrast with the very correct, sedate and conservative British of Baring Bank. The soundtrack pulsates, the story soars and we watch as Leeson gets in so deep, he is drowned by his own wiles. An extraordinary tale of ambition, love and despair, Rogue Trader is a beguiling bumpy ride on the rollercoaster of deception."
Louise Keller

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

ROGUE TRADER(M)
(UK)

CAST: Ewan McGregor, Anna Friel, Tim McInnerny, Yves Beneyton, Tom Wu

DIRECTOR: James Dearden

PRODUCERS: Paul Raphael, Janette Day, James Dearden

SCRIPT: James Dearden

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jean-Francois Robin

EDITOR: Catherine Creed

MUSIC: Richard Hartley

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alan McDonald

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 25, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: May 9, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment







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