Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

For those unsure, no it's not a Partridge movie (you can almost imagine the follow up Back Of The Net) and, yes, it is the one where glamour model Keeley Hazell does her shopping without a top. As Alan himself would have said, cashback.

In all seriousness though, Cashback is the expanded version of photographer-come-director Sean Ellis' award-winning 18-minute short (basically, every scene from the original is here with additional material). It's a low-budget Brit art-flick with indie roots, for sure, but Ellis' ambitions are to be applauded. Occasionally reminiscent of the better moments from Flashbacks Of A Fool (which Ellis co-produced), the former fashion snapper crafts a visually-creative and introspective journey into weary self-analysis.

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After breaking up with his longtime girlfriend Suzy (Michelle Ryan), art student Ben (Sean Biggerstaff) is so distraught that he finds himself unable to sleep. Taking a nightshift job at his local supermarket to fill the void, Ben begins stopping time so he can undress the female shoppers as a way of passing time. Slowly finding himself drawn to co-worker Sharon (Emilia Fox), he feels she might be able to cure his insomnia.

Aided by Guy Farley’s truly haunting score and some revealing-yet dry narration by Biggerstaff (effective while cypher-ish), it perfectly captures the pain of being dumped by someone who moves on straight away. The self-inflicted torture of looking at old photos, the soul-searching sleepless nights, the stupid's all here. Yes, even that ill-advised question (you know, about if the new partner is ‘better’) that you can't help but ask.

Yet, sadly, there is truth to the accusations which claim the feature length version lacks the unique cache of its trophy-attracting predecessor. The supporting characters are a tad clichéd, the slapstick comedy feels slightly forced and certain scenes (like the football match or ‘getting ready for the party’ bit) seem at odds with the wonderfully-dreamy early stages.

Still, given that it was necessary to do the rewrites in seven days (in order to accommodate the original actor’s schedules so they could return), Ellis deserves kudos. Besides rendering the mind-numbing boredom and zombie-like mundanity of shelf-stacking (where juvenile means and internal entertainment are necessary), he handles the nude scenes with elegant poignancy while illustrating how tragically beautiful loneliness can be. And while Fox gets progressively more attractive as Ben’s new muse, Ryan corners the market in delectable.

More than just an ogle-fest of nude females, the feature length version of Cashback is a well-observed portrait of heartbreak with beauty to spare.

Reviewed on: 09 Jul 2009
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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:

Jennie Kermode ***1/2
Chris *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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