It’s been so long since I put the movie Cashback in my Netflix queue that I’m not entirely certain what it was that made me want to see it in the first place. Whatever it was, by the time I watched it this morning, any prior knowledge I may have had of the existence of this movie was gone. Maybe I liked the thumbnail poster. Maybe it was the Oscar nominated short film of the same name. Whatever the case, I ended up watching the movie with no expectations whatsoever.
On one level, Cashback is like a British version of Clerks. It’s about an art student named Ben who works the nightshift at a grocery store because he can’t sleep. Each of the workers at the store has a different way of getting through the shift. Ben’s is the most unique. Ben has the ability to stop time.
There are any dozen ways that this might be interesting, but all Ben does with this power is undress the female customers, draw them, then dress them again. In the short, this works because it’s 18 minutes long and it becomes almost haunting. In a feature length film, it just becomes creepy. The only way to view what’s happening without being bothered by it is to assume that the female customers aren’t people. Otherwise it’s just a guy using supernatural powers to violate the privacy of attractive women.
That’s not to say there isn’t anything worthwhile in the film. There are funny moments throughout and some of the camera tricks are genuinely stunning. It’s just a film that failed to hold my attention due to its rampant sexism and lack of good dialog.
The more I think about Cashback, the more I get the feeling it’s simply not a movie for me. I expect that there are young men in the UK who absolutely love this film. Writer/Director Sean Ellis does create an interesting world for these people to inhabit and if you don’t think about it too much, then it works. But I end up wondering how he got the power, why he doesn’t use it for other things, how he learned how to use the power, and any number of other practical questions that are never answered.
Eventually I decided the stopping time thing was less a sci-fi device and more a metaphor. When I think about the movie like that, it works slightly better but it still involves Ben failing to treat women like fellow human beings.
Cashback is an odd movie. The cinematography is incredibly creative. The stopping time thing looks good. It’s just a lack of an interesting story or redeemable characters that stop it from succeeding.
Cashback is available on Netflix or you can purchase it at this link.