Bermuda International Film Festival, Jury Prize for Best Narrative
San Sebastián International Film Festival 2006, C.I.C.A.E.
Academy Awards Nominated, Best Short Film, Live Action
Brest European Short Film Festival 2004, Grand Prix
Chicago International Film Festival 2004, Gold Hugo for Best
FIKE - Évora International Short Film Festival 2005,
Leuven International Short Film Festival, Audience Award
Lille International Short Film Festival 2005, First Prize (Fiction)
Tribeca Film Festival 2005, Best Narrative Short
Director: Sean Ellis
Cast: Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox, Shaun Evans,
Michelle Ryan, Stuart Goodman
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: GV & Festive Films
Rating: M18 (Nudity)
Official Website: http://www.cashbackthemovie.com/
Opening Day: 2 August 2007
When art student Ben Willis is dumped by his girlfriend Suzy,
he develops insomnia. To pass the long hours of the night,
he starts working the late night shift at the local supermarket.
There he meets a colourful cast of characters, all of whom
have their own ‘art’ in dealing with the boredom
of an eight hour shift. Ben’s art is that he imagines
himself stopping time. This way, he can appreciate the artistic
beauty of the frozen world and the people inside it –
especially Sharon, the quiet checkout girl, who perhaps holds
the answer to solving the problem of Ben’s insomnia.
Based on the award-winning short film Cashback.
“Cashback” taps into an area of visual enchantment
that belies its exhausted subject’s denudation. In its
most laudable form, it deals with a latent appreciation of
existence rather than the superficial pleasures of eroticism.
Expanded from a 2004 Academy Award nominated short, its director
(Sean Ellis) invokes the male gaze to create an unmistakable
film for young men but makes admirable work of delving into
the pathos of relationships with the sleek handling of temporal
dissociation to explore life’s stolen moments.
art school aesthete, Ben Willis (Sean Biggerstaff) realises
a talent to freeze time through his imagination while working
the night shift at a supermarket, something that lends him
a new perspective on the world that surrounds him and an artist’s
insight into the “fundamentals of still life”.
Ellis addresses the tedium of menial labour and the way time
seems to work in relation to ennui and the lack of mental
(and physical) activity. Enraptured by coworker, Sharon (Emilia
Fox), Ben starts questioning what he thinks he knows of the
has a stylistic handle on his film that is polished and taut
for the most part. He does tend to descend into amateurish
depictions of insomnia with his frequent use of time lapses.
He also reaches into a dry structural well by employing some
well-worn clichés to move the story ahead as well as
a considerable reliance on Ben’s philosophising narration
that threatens to hamper the mood of discovery.
famously said that art is a lie that lets us see the truth.
This is especially true of “Cashback” in its most
deplorable form, when it begins to resemble a patriarchal
wet dream cavorting as existential art. A feeling of discomfort
arises when Ben undresses gorgeous women by crudely lifting
up their skirts and blouses while they remain frozen in time.
He purports to do this for the sake of exploration, to apparently
document and accept their minor flaws by drawing portraits
of them while he breaches their privacy. And so, the wish
fulfillment of the ignored male is then realised.
are some legitimate uses of the gratuitous shots of bare anatomy
when through flashbacks, the film comments on the soft-core
pornography that continues to enthrall its legions by arguing
a perennial fascination of the female form that both educates
and perturbs the male sexual psyche. In “Cashback”,
there’s not so much sweetness wrought from being in
the presence of ardent romance than there is a sort of erudite
understanding of gender, art and sexuality.
(A semi-literate comedy about male/female dynamics that leaves
areas open for debate)
by Justin Deimen