The storyline of Cashback is nothing unique; an art student named Ben has a falling out with a longtime girlfriend and is devastated. Still, Cashback is a smart and funny indie film that nearly everyone can relate to. Also the camera work is impressive enough to make the story that has been told a thousand times, interesting.
The very opening scene is one where we see Suzy breaking up with Ben Willis (Sean Biggerstaff). It is his first break up and he describes it as an emotional car crash. He recalls the 2 ½ years they were together and all the memories they shared in these years. Obviously crushed by the break up, he starts questioning the very meaning of what love is and if it truly exists.
It’s as if the world is playing a cruel joke on Ben as he would want nothing more than to take his mind off of relationships and sex, yet it surrounds him. Sitting in his college dorm room, he can hear people having sex next door. It tortures him and he describes it as the “haunting period”. Also, his friend Sean cannot seem to stop talking about getting with other women.
Having a hard time falling asleep, he does what many would do in his situation, even when we know it never helps, look at photographs of the person. After realizing this, he considers burning the photos but hesitates because he is clearly not ready to let go of her.
It is not long before he cannot sleep at night at all. Ben develops insomnia and ends up with an extra 8 hours added to his days. He wants nothing more than for time to pass by quickly but instead he is forced to stay awake and think about Suzy.
Looking for a way to trade back some of his time, as he puts it, he gets a job at a grocery store working the night shift. This is where the name of the film’s name comes from. He gives them the extra 8 hours of his time and they give him money in return, Cashback. I must admit, it is a clever title for the film.
Perhaps one of the most interesting concepts behind Cashback is that Ben begins to manipulate time. In order to make his shift at work go by fast, he imagines the opposite. He pretends that time stands still but he would still get to freely move around and interact without anyone knowing. He points out what many quantum physicists preach; that you can speed up or slow down time but you cannot go back in time and change what has already happened.
After a few weeks at his new job he found a co-worker named Sharon who he was started to take interest in. Not only did he have a new job to help him stay busy but now a new girl to help him take his mind off of Suzy. Sharon asks Ben to be her date to a company party. It was then that he finally got sleep, the first time in four weeks.
Just when everything seemed to finally be working out for Ben, he runs into Suzy at the party. It is an awkward situation that we have all been a part of at some point. Suzy confesses that she still thinks about him all the time. Ben then is tested to see if he can keep the past behind him. Not an easy task by any means.
The camera work in Cashback is nothing like your typical indie film. In one scene, Ben appears to move backwards then seamlessly switches to falling back onto his bed. Which it is no surprise that it took a whole day to film that out of the 25 day schedule.
Another brilliantly done scene is when Ben freezes time in the grocery store but we see he moving around. There were several amazing transitions throughout, like the one between the grocery store and a flashback to where he is a small child.
Sean Ellis is the writer, director and producer of this independent film, which he wrote the script for in only 7 days. It amazes me just how good Cashback was considering the general plot of the film has been done, but I think that is what also makes it so enjoyable. We can all relate to the main character because we have all been through a similar situation at least once in our lives.
Even after watching the film several times, I still look forward to seeing it each time. That alone can attest that the film is nothing short of astounding. Rarely, am I excited to watch a film more than once or twice. It is unfortunate that this indie film will not get the mainstream recognition it deserves.