PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ben, an aspiring artist, develops insomnia after a painful breakup with his girlfriend, Suzy. To take his mind off of Suzy and to occupy the extra waking hours he has recently gained, Ben begins working at a local Sainsbury’s supermarket, where he meets colourful co-workers. Among them is his colleague Sharon, with whom he soon develops a mutual crush.

As his personal means to escape the boredom inherent in the night shift, Ben lets his imagination run wild. In particular, he imagines that he can stop time so that he can walk around in a world that is “frozen” like the pause of a film. He imagines female patrons of the supermarket stopped in time, allowing him to undress and draw them. Finally the ability to stop time becomes real.

A series of flashbacks occur with each progression of the plot, accompanied by Ben’s narration and an examination of the effect the situation had had upon him. He explains how he always has been impressed by the beauty of the female body: how he, as a young boy, witnessed a Swedish boarder (Hayley-Marie Coppin) walk naked from the shower to her room. In another flashback the young Ben and his best friend Sean Higgins share Sean’s discovery of his parents’ adult magazines, and Sean pays a neighbourhood girl fifty pence to show him, and all the neighbourhood boys, her vulva.

Ben’s boss, Jenkins, recruits the staff for a weekend football game and, after an embarrassing defeat, Ben freezes time again. This time he discovers that he is not alone when he sees a mysterious stranger who is able to move inside the frozen world as he can.

When Ben’s boss throws a party to honour his own birthday and as a consolation for their defeat, Sharon asks Ben to be her date, to which he eagerly but nervously agrees. While there, Ben encounters his ex-girlfriend Suzy, who implores him to try their relationship again. Ben refuses her advance but she kisses him, just as Sharon witnesses from afar. Sharon angrily leaves the party. Ben realizes Sharon has seen the kiss, and freezes time. After spending several days “frozen”, Ben concludes that although he can stop time, he cannot reverse it to correct the mistake. He eventually seeks to explain himself to Sharon at her apartment, and a confrontation similar to the film-opening breakup occurs. Sharon henceforth does not show up to work at the supermarket.

As a practical joke, colleagues Barry and Matt phone Ben; Matt poses as an art gallery owner who is interested in displaying Ben’s drawings, and schedules an appointment for Ben to present more to him. When Ben arrives as agreed, the reaction of the owner quickly reveals the prank. However, the gallery owner is nonetheless interested in Ben’s work and decides to exhibit Ben’s drawings.

Sharon receives an invitation to the exhibition and visits it. She is moved as most of the pieces depict her and she happily greets Ben, congratulating him on his success. The finale occurs as Ben shares his ability to stop time with her and the two step outside into a time-frozen snowfall.


In the breakups that I’ve been through, I’ve found it hard to sleep, eat, concentrate, but I don’t recall the ability to stop time like this guy in Cashback. Does that make him a relatable character and, as a result, the film? I can’t really say, but it should be an interesting watch, right?

What is this about?

Plagued by insomnia after a romantic breakup, artist Ben Willis starts working nights at a supermarket, where he discovers he can freeze time. His strange new powers lead to Ben’s undressing attractive customers and using them as sketch models.

What did I like?

Art. First and foremost, our protagonist is an artists. You may notice the naked girl on the poster. Yes, there are a couple of nude scenes in this film, but they are artfully done, much in the way that you would see nudity in a museum, as opposed to the kind you see in cinematic sex scenes. Usually, I’d have preferred to see bountiful bouncing breasts heaving on the screen, but there is just something to be said about using the female body as an art vessel, for lack of a better term, not to mention they don’t forget that Sean Biggerstaff’s character is an aspiring artist.

Coworkers. In an attempt to bring some levity to this film that has some rather dark themes, Biggerstaff is given some colorful coworkers, none of which seem to have his best interests in mind. This can be seen in one of the later scenes when the two chief troublemakers play an awful practical joke on him. Luckily, that joke turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

What didn’t I like?

Girls. Maybe I should have paid closer attention, but the objects of Biggerstaff’s affections couldn’t stay straight in my head. I found myself wondering which was which the whole time. Considering how they don’t particular resemble each other, it shouldn’t have been that hard, but for some reason I just couldn’t do it.

Soccer. Remember in Clerks how the whole films stops for them to go up to the roof and play hockey? Well, this film has a similar situation where the whole film changes course just to play a soccer game. It made no sense in the contest of the film. At least in Clerks, the game is set up, this just comes out of nowhere and you don’t really know what to do afterwards.

I wish I had something profound to say about Cashback, but I don’t. This is just one of those independent films that was successful as a short, which prompted some producer to shell out for an extended version. Does that make it good or bad? No, not really. For me, this came off as a bit underwhelming, the next person may find it pretentious, and the person after that may be totally in love with it. This is a film you have to decide for yourself. Yes, I recommend it, but not very highly.

3 out of 5 stars


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