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Cashback | Review

The Long Pause: Male fantasy has got the look down but script lacks focus.

An ode to filmmaking techniques popularized from a decade before, this Brit filmmaker combines his glossy fashion page experience and knack for photographing nature’s best (youth and the female form) for a visual prose that is highlighted in its most pristine compositions. Cashback is an adolescent, pre-adult, male fantasy flick that originates from an award-winning 20-minute short and expanding it into a full feature-length feature proves to be an arduous task for filmmaker Sean Ellis.

For many, supermarkets serve the masses by allowing individuals to stockpile the fridge and put out future cravings, but for a sleep deprived few the pristine white alleys and brightly packaged goods are an amusement park of sorts. In Ellis’ setting, the British supermarket seconds as a modeling agency – here the aisles are stocked with supermodels and juvenile delinquents don’t have the slightest clue in knowing when to separate playtime and serious stuff. The film’s protagonist played by Sean Biggerstaff is in relationship-limbo disaccord and finds that the new job does more than pass time – it pushes him to live life.

Ellis’ script pools form two sets of characters – cartoonish alpha males and the serious-minded main character on his quest to a new found wisdom. Problematic is in the film’s tone – it doesn’t know if it wants to be a drama with comedic elements or a comedy with touches of true life lessons – instead it feels confused in the delinquent subplot brouhaha.

Generations of filmmakers were influenced by Pulp Fiction, and if you lived in the U.K. Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting has served as a source of inspiration – unfortunately, that well has run dry but Ellis updates some of those techniques. While the compositions and camera trickery offer nice divertissements, and Ellis makes use of some nice seamless transitions from one setting to the next, there are too many reminders of Boyle’s film – from the lackluster point in the narrative that merges freeze frames and football match, to the dependency on voice-over narration one can’t help but feel that this is something we’ve seen before.

Lots of nudity in the form of symmetrically perfect female form shall satisfy younger audiences, but the film’s many dry spots and the failure to make connections between childhood experience, relationship difficulties, workplace boredom, lifestyle challenges and love being skin deep further illustrates that the idea of the short film was not suited for the long form.

Reviewd on March 21st 2007.

Rating 1.5 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson's This Teacher (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022 he served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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