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Cashback

Year: 2007
Production Co: Left Turn Films
Director: Sean Ellis
Producer: Sean Ellis
Writer: Sean Ellis
Cast: Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox, Keeley Hazell
The question you most want to ask the director of this movie is about the casting of Brit glamour model Keeley Hazell in a one-scene role as a Swedish exchange student in the childhood home of hero Ben (Biggerstaff, formerly a Harry Potter extra).

She's Ben's first exposure to the beauty of the female form he'll be chasing all his life through his art, and as he describes the immodest Swede walking past him from the shower to her room wearing nothing but a towel on her head, we're treated to a long, tracking shot that follows Hazell slowly up the stairs. Did that day of the shoot make his life complete? From where I saw it (rapturously), it was a performance worthy of an Oscar.

It's just one highlight in a very professionally made movie that could have come from a Hollywood studio. Everything from the opening titles to the film stock is high quality. Director Sean Ellis crafts some amazingly inventive shots worthy of a Tarantino-inspired fanboy, and every frame looks and plays great.

One of the film's strengths is that despite being set in a London Sainsburys, and with some distinctly English characters and background, you soon forget you're watching an English movie. It's partly thanks to the slickness of the production and partly because - whether you like it or not - we've all been in the same place as the sensitive Ben following his break-up with Suzy.

Part fantasy, part subculture calling card, all love story, Cashback starts with a slow motion shot of a very upset Suzy, whom Ben's just split with. In the weeks following, he slowly falls apart from insomnia, taking a job as a late night shelf stacker to pass the hours. At first he pays little mind to Sharon, the co-worker who'll start to command more of his attention, continuing his search for beauty in the strange netherworld where he can pause the world for indeterminate periods.

Taking cues and homaging themes from movies as diverse as Clerks and Clockwatchers, it certainly does meander, a looseness of story not everyone will agree with. Some of the dialogue doesn't ring true and some characters are stereotypical, but the performances are as polished as the production design and Cashback is a major arrival for a filmmaker in values if not in narrative.

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