Pros: Excellent acting, great plot, better script. Quite charming. Sean Biggerstaff.
Cons: A small movie avoiding profundity. Almost no male nudity.
Cashback (2006) Written and Directed by Sean Ellis
Once upon a time, I wanted to know what love was. Love is there if you want it to be. You just have to see that it's wrapped in beauty and hidden away in between the seconds of your life. If you don't stop for a minute, you might miss it. -Ben Willis
Ever heard the expression, he undressed her with his eyes? This is that phenomena, taken to the extreme.
Ben Willis (Sean Biggerstaff, who played Oliver Wood in the Harry Potter Movies) is an aspiring artist. He has just broken up with his high maintenance girlfriend, Suzy (Michelle Ryan). The emotional backlash causes insomnia, and as Ben enters his second week without sleep, he decides to use this cursed gift to make some money, trading his time for money at the local supermarket Sineburys.
As anyone who works the graveyard shift can tell you, boredom is the enemy. You have to find something to occupy your mind. I personally review books and movies....
Ben imagines that he can stop time. That he can push the cosmic pause button, and while everything around his freezes, he moves about the world, observing. As an artist, this is a handy ability. As a young man, heartbroken and hormonal, he uses the power for what it was obviously intended, to remove women's clothing, and draw them. Yes, straight boys, there is an amazing amount of high quality nudity here. And yet, it is not an overtly sexual movie, much more a movie about relationships. This may make it the single most perfect date movie of all time.
As the story progresses, Ben is drawn to Sharon (Emilia Fox) one of the Checkout girls. The store is a collection of intriguing characters, each with their own way to fight the tedium. Barry and Mat (Michael Dixon and Michael Lambourne) are typical cut ups. Brian (Marc Pickering) knows Kung Fu (?). The manager, Jenkins, (Stuart Goodwin) is a bit of a berk who engages in a hint of sexual harassment to wile away the hours. And as the weeks without sleep continue, Ben's life becomes more surreal. The harmless fantasy of stopping time becomes more real, until you are not certain if he is, or isn't really doing it.
The only problem with this power is that it is impossible to get past second base in a relationship with it. For anything more, you actually have to talk to someone.
This movie started as an 18 minute short. It was Oscar nominated, and is included in its entirety in the movie. All the actors were available, so the transition is seamless, though like Ben's power, it was on pause for two years.
While the movie has a Sci Fi premise, it has almost no Sci Fi feel. What it does have is an amazing grasp of how surreal the world gets the further you slide into insomnia (My record is two hundred and nine hours.) Of course Sean Biggerstaff is completely unconvincing as an insomniac, being a sweet faced kid. Benicio Del Toro would have sold the part better on looks. He looks like he hasn't slept since 2002 anyway. But his narration of everything is spot on, with that calm dispassionate tone that speaks to half your brain being offline at any given time.
It also explores the artist's world, and the gift of seeing things, and art's ability to freeze a moment in time, much like Ben's ability. The thing is art shares the power with others.
And ultimately that is what the movie is about, sharing with others the individual moments of time that make existence worthwhile.
This film is not deep, nor heavy; it is not profound. By the same token, it is far from light weight and is infinitely more than a popcorn burner. It is, as I said, an excellent date movie with something for everyone. Relationships for the ladies, and the ladies for the gents.
Certified Lean-N-Mean at 666 concise words.