Reviewed by: Chris

Cashback is about a young art student getting over the break-up with his girlfriend. He thinks about her 24 hours a day and can't sleep. So he gets a job in a supemarket to fill the nighttime hours. There he imagines he can freeze time. This handy trick lets him do things, like undress attractive customers, to raise his artistic sights. Inevitably, he manages to date a checkout girl in real time and stop daydreaming.

The idea of time freezing, as a metaphor for what happens when you are stuck in the past, is a good one. It also suggests an excellent attribute for an artist who has to hold something in the mind's eye long enough to re-create it. The problem with Cashback is that it succumbs to its own folly. Originally conceived as an Oscar-nominated 18-minute short, writer/director/producer Sean Ellis has tried to make a feature length, coming-of-age, sexual odyssey from a successful quickie. He even uses original footage from the short. This is sad.

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In more experienced hands, this might have worked. The idea of losing oneself in sentimentality was expertly dissected in Wong Kar Wai's 2046. In Cashback, you get strong sexual images from childhood, a Swedish baby sitter's backside, a schoolgirl who flashes and lots of nudes at the supermarket. Except for the checkout girl, everyone appears as a caricature, the fat, middle-aged art school model who farts, the overbearing, sexist store manager and the boastful, macho co-workers. Better handled, with more depth and slapstick, this might have been an enjoyable comedy. But, even then, it would have been undermined by lines, such as, "I watched the landscape as it clung to the last hours of sunset."

Why didn't Ellis bring in better writers, instead of trying to do everything himself? If it weren't for The Matrix-like freezes and cheesy similes, this could be re-titled, Smutty Fantasies Of An Art Student. It does have one well executed scene, which happens at the end. Although predictable, it is beautifully done and adds an extra layer to the “between the moments in time” imagery. Otherwise, the movie's greatest benefit is a little 15-rated soft porn that the BBFC found "entirely natural, rather than sexualised."

Reviewed on: 01 May 2008
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Romance about an art student who works the nightshift in a supermarket, explores the issue of time - and what would happen if you could make it stand still.
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Read more Cashback reviews:

Stephen Carty ***1/2
Jennie Kermode ***1/2

Director: Sean Ellis

Writer: Sean Ellis

Starring: Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox, Shaun Evans, Michelle Ryan, Stuart Goodwin, Michael Dixon, Michael Lambourne, Marc Pickering, Nick Hancock, Frank Hesketh, Irene Bagach

Year: 2006

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


Glasgow 2007

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