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An unlikable protagonist, messy editing, and gratuitous nudity might make audiences ask for their cash back.
All Critics (52)
| Top Critics (20)
| Fresh (25)
| Rotten (27)
| DVD (6)
I think this filmmaker has a future.
Cashback aspires to be equal parts Volkswagen ad and Nicholson Baker's The Fermata, yet compares unfavorably to both.
Ellis seems to believe that artists have an enlightened sense of beauty and greater access to it than common folk. And he may be right: He's clearly mastered the skill of convincing art-school chicks to take their clothes off.
Cashback is light, smart, and enjoyable, and it makes me eager to see what Ellis has planned for his next outing.
As observers we can project our own fantasies onto Ben's, and [director] Ellis enhances this dreamy effect with low-budget ingenuity, like cleverly executing location changes in the same unbroken shot.
Imagine Kevin Smith with a background in poetry and painting instead of comic books and bestiality jokes, and you'll have an idea of what to expect from an exciting new filmmaker named Sean Ellis, whose terrific debut is called Cashback.
A little too mopey and sexist for its own good. But the cast is engaging enough to keep us interested
A good writer starts with characters and plot and allows the themes to come naturally from the story. Sean Ellis' script for Cashback is all theme, and it's not that interesting a one to begin with.
The first thing one will probably respond to, after the brief rampant nudity, is the exquisite cinematography by Angus Hudson.
The film lags badly in the middle; the flashbacks to Ben's childhood aren't especially interesting and the lengthy soccer sequence is sheer dead weight.
Cashback's eccentricity holds, but Ellis and his audience would have benefited from a clearer direction and a bit more restraint.
This reviewer wouldn't dream of speaking for all women (or all of anybody else), but I and many of the other women I know do not equate being seen and approved of naked as having one's soul unveiled.
What a dumb movie. Not sure if the director is trying to be 'artistic' or if he's just a massive pervert. The latter is probably correct. It's a film with boring characters, pointless scenes (especially the soccer one), and terrible attempts at humor (the nude guy farting). It's a waste of time. I don't watch films to see how artistic they are, I watch them for entertainment like most people. What makes a film entertaining is a good plot and likable characters. Not the case here.
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 it doesn'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.
This film has recently enjoyed a renewal of interest, and is swiftly becoming a cult classic with a loyal following. Based off a short Ellis made, and won an Oscar for, he has expanded it and made an independent film that has changed the look of the genre. Good independent films, especially comedies, happen once in a long while, and they usually get the stuffing kicked out of them by critics. It's the audience that makes these films rise in prominence, and that's thanks to the ones who scour the festivals and write the reviews that give these films sufficient attention. Why am I putting so much emphasis on this fact? Because Cashback varies throughout, and though cute, stays on that fine line between obnoxious and highly original. It has the fairy tale sweetness of magic realism by enabling the main character to possess the ability to freeze time while also falling in love with his co-worker. It is about love, about understanding a relationship, about analyzing time and how your actions affect it. The characters are interesting, the plot stays plausible if not magical, and the writing is executed with an ear for the cute and cuddly, while retaining a human dignity for the main character, who has just ended a relationship that used to mean the world to him. Besides the fact that there is an air of disillusionment around Ben (Biggerstaff), I didn't really believe the bond between him and the cashier (Fox) who seamlessly fall in love in a millisecond. I could see some attraction based on mutual isolation from society and both of them being hopeless when it comes to love, but true love? I don't see that dynamic working out. Also, a lot of loose threads wound together. The best friend is added only as a token character, the boss is arrogant yet lacking in the film, and there are characters that appear just long enough to confuse and delay the ending. Beside those inconsistencies, I really enjoyed the light comedy and the sadness that effortlessly comes off Ben, who owns this film by being adorably tragic.
Ben Willis: I wanted to freeze time. I wanted to savor that moment, to live in that moment for a week. But I couldn't stop it, only slow it. And before I knew it, she was gone. After the door closed I felt like the last person on Earth.
"Sometimes love is hiding between the seconds of your life"
Cashback is a movie that starts off with a lot of promise. It feels like it's going to be one of those great indie gems. It manages to be original and highly inventive. It feels fresh for an hour, and then... dullness. I fell completely out of love with the movie in the last 45 minutes or so. It never got to the point where I was hating what I was watching, but it did get to the point where I just didn't care anymore.
Ben breaks up with his girlfriend and goes into a bout of depression. In the weeks that follow, he can no longer sleep. He decides to take a night job at a grocery store to pass the eight hours when he can't sleep. He finds a way to pass his shifts by freezing time. Then he ends up falling for a fellow employee.
The film does manage to be pretty original even when it reaches points of predictability. On a whole it isn't a bad experience. It's funny, at times. It's smart a lot of the time, and manages to hold ones attention. The initial set up was just a lot better than the sum of all the parts, and by the end I was underwhelmed by the final product.
The acting is fairly good, and all the breasts are exquisite. But as a feature length film, it leaves a lot to be desired is all. Worth a look of you are into indies, but don't expect a great one.
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