Cashback * * * *
Director: Sean Ellis.
Screenplay: Sean Ellis.
Starring: Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox, Michelle Ryan, Michael Dixon, Michael Lambourne, Stuart Goodwin, Shaun Evans, Marc Pickering, Nick Hancock, Keeley Hazell.
Director Sean Ellis made an 18 minute short film in 2004 that won a plethora of International awards and received an Oscar nomination. Because of this, he decided to expand it to feature length and delivers a delightful little independent film.
Young artist Ben Willis (Sean Biggerstaff) breaks up with girlfriend Suzy (Michelle Ryan) which leads to him developing insomnia. As sleep is hard to come by, he takes on a night-shift at the local supermarket where he develops ways to alter time and indulge in his artistic imagination.
The best way to describe this film lies in a direct quote from the protagonist himself; “Within this frozen world I’m able to walk freely and unnoticed. Nobody would even know that time has stopped. And when it started back up again, the invisible join would be seamless except for a slight shudder. Not unlike the feeling of somebody walking over your grave”. And so begins, the journey of insomniac Ben Willis who stops time and undresses women to paint and sketch their female form. This is an imaginative and thoroughly rewarding little film from a promising new director. The New York Post compared Sean Ellis to “Clerks” director Kevin Smith, if he had “… a background in poetry and painting instead of comic-books and bestiality jokes“. It’s a good comparison as this film is as fresh and engaging as Smith’s earlier work. However, it’s also a prime example of how films can be almost completely buried if they don’t receive the right marketing campaign. Such a shame, that this hasn’t gained a wider audience. It’s a cleverly constructed and stylish debut with sharp dialogue and genuinely touching and hilarious moments. Ellis is a director that has now caught my attention and he draws excellent performances from a relatively unknown cast. The only apparent problem is over-length. To go from an 18min short to a 100min feature is a bit of a stretch and as a result, the film meanders toward it’s conclusion. However, this is a small gripe in what is otherwise an inventive and sophisticated little drama.
Skilfully handled by everyone involved and the kind of film that warrants more attention. A vastly underrated little gem.