Director: Sean Ellis
In 2004, British writer/director Sean Ellis crafted an eighteen minute film also named Cashback that earned numerous short film accolades from festivals including Tribeca and Chicago, while also receiving the prestigious Academy Award nomination for the Best Short Film Live Action of that particular year. Two years later, Ellis decided to lengthen the piece into a feature length film, while keeping his original intact (and it plays seamlessly in the new version) that finds art student Ben Willis (Sean Biggerstaff) battling insomnia after breaking up with his long-term girlfriend Suzy. Now with an additional eight hours of his life to fill, he decides to stop channel surfing and get an overnight job at the local supermarket where he and his fellow employees spend their time coming up with a way to deal with the drudgery of an eight hour shift in a fluorescent light filled market. Ben’s method is a bit disturbing as he takes his love of art and the female form to extremes by “stopping time” and freezing moments in his mind while he mentally undresses shoppers and sketches them in his workbook. While it begins similarly to numerous other "art student tries to find himself and overcome lost love" films with a bit of the dark ensemble humor of Doug Liman’s Go thrown in for good measure, after the repetitive beginning (which will admittedly wear on the nerves of some female viewers including myself), the film evolves into a more interesting character piece when Ben develops feelings for checkout girl Sharon (Emilia Fox) whom he feels may help solve his inability to sleep. Although it probably makes a much better short film than a long one—it’s stylistically impressive with a few awe-inspiring shots including one of the best in recent memory that echoes Mike Nichols’s The Graduate that finds Ben falling from a payphone back into his dorm room bed which IMDb shared took one full day of the shoot’s twenty-five days to film and was completed entirely in camera.