Cashback
What you’re saying isn’t boring, she just doesn’t like you.

Theatrical Release Date: 01/17/2007 (Belgium), 06/05/2007 (USA)
Director: Sean Ellis
Cast: Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox

There are hundreds of big budget Hollywood films that come out each year and hundreds more films released direct to DVD or the cable-sphere; all that could be at best called passable or innocuous.

In taking a chance on a film I ran across, I’m happy to once again find a surprising and sweet little independent film from the UK in the form of writer/director Sean Ellis’ “Cashback”.

It started as a short film that was nominated for a number of awards, including our own vaunted Oscar, and then was expanded into a full-length feature film. That’s not so uncommon a tale but I found it quite interesting that the entire short film is embedded in the feature.

I’m not sure if that’s ever been done before and it makes for a quite interesting look to watch the short film first, and then see the story expanded in the feature. It’s almost like watching a film and then reading the book. You get to find out about the details and understand the characters in a much richer way.

The story itself is fairly typical. Boiled down, it’s about a guy who has developed insomnia after breaking up with his girlfriend and how he copes with that after taking a job on the night shift at a supermarket. What sets the film apart from the normal fare is that he freezes time in order to study the world and the people around him.

This does make for a science fiction element but it’s meant more as a beautiful way to make daydreams come to life. I would imagine many people have had that passing though that it would be wonderful to pause life, to effect some small change in the next moment or if only to try and burn the present moment in time into your memory.

Whether it’s a perfect afternoon with the person you love, the feeling of hitting the winning shot or discovering that you don’t have a venereal disease, we’ve all been there.

Within the film, the main character uses this ability to help his art (as an aspiring painter) and there are plenty of beautiful, nude women for him to sketch. The not so inner pervert in me appreciates this but the elusive aesthete also inside of me was able to look past this to find the literal beauty in these moments.

And really, I’m never going to oppose putting beautiful naked women on film so kudos to the filmmakers and the casting department here.

As for the quality of the film, the performances are all good and Ellis is able to create a quirky and fun environment using the characters who work at the supermarket. The world he creates feels very real and there were times I wish I could step into it myself.

There’s also a lot of comedy in the scenes and I imagine it’s kind of like “Office Space” for grocery stores. Each character gets enough development for the audience to understand their role in the store and to appreciate how they play off of one another.

Now, I’m not saying anything in the film will surprise you. It’s all pretty standard stuff; Boy loses girl, boy grieves, boy meets new girl, boy messes up and makes grand gesture, etc., etc. But it’s done in a genuine fashion that I think audiences can really appreciate and respond to.

Another bonus, should you be a “Bionic Woman” fan is that the ex-girlfriend is played by Michelle Ryan. Since I don’t watch the show, I could care less but there must be someone out there who might be lured into seeing this film because of it and I’d like to make sure people do give this a shot.

I’m giving “Cashback” a very strong 3 out of 5. If you’re looking for an independent romantic comedy that isn’t just fluff and some B-list actors earning per diem, then give this a try. I’m glad I did.