Movie Review: “Cashback”

15 Aug

Cashback” is a 2006 film by Sean Ellis that recently made its way to Netflix Canada. Intrigued by the poster (potentially NSFW), I gave it a shot.

Ben breaks up with his girlfriend, realizes he can pause time, and looks at a bunch of exposed boobies.

For a film that’s impenetrably crass, Cashback manages to be the least titillating film involving excessive quantities of exposed breasts that I have ever seen.

Have you ever looked at an artist’s work, full of paintings of nude women, and wondered, “Did they just get into art because they wanted to see naked girls?” You may, as I have, immediately attempted to ignore this feeling and imagined that it’s only a way for you to excuse your own lack of creativity (not to mention meager charm). Cashback instead demands that the viewer embrace this feeling as the only way to appreciate the film at all.

This is a drama/comedy so lacking in wit or intelligence that one wonders if there could possibly be any other motive behind it beyond the opportunity to pay beautiful women to expose their breasts. The audience’s only purpose is to bear witness to this awkward transaction.

In the scene that first demonstrates Ben’s ability to pause time and disrobe (and draw) his paused victims, a supermarket aisle is shown containing four stunning women in various levels of exposure. These women are the type that you only see rarely, and sport the sort of carefully selected beauty typically reserved for actors in the pornographic arts. And yet here they are, and we are expected to believe that, not only did they all end up at the same supermarket on the same night, but in the same aisle at that.

The sheer unbelievability of it all defies even what one might be used to seeing in porn. Who are these people, and are we really expected to believe that they’re real?

In almost every scene containing women, the person in charge of casting made every effort to ensure that only improbably pretty women made it into frame, but made no similar attempt for the men. It is so noticeable that it becomes everything the film is about.

But it gets worse than that. Ben, the main character, also narrates flashbacks to his young childhood where he is obsessed with girls of perhaps 10 or 12 years old. Once again, we’re left to wonder who was in charge of finding “beautiful” children, meant to be sexualized and studied.

And let us consider for just a moment that Ben can pause time. And, essentially, he only uses this incredible power to draw naked strangers. Surely the filmmakers could make some attempt to justify this, full of revisionist symbolism, about how this demonstrates how we all waste the time we’re given and the privileges we have, etc. etc. Or even that Ben cannot, in fact, pause time, but it is just his rampant imagination and insomnia that grant him the ability to think he has. But that explanation would fall as flat as every other component of this movie.

Of course, brooding voiceover fills most scenes, ostensibly to deliver the insights that the film does not contain (about anything, let alone life or love).

In the end, this is a film in which nothing interesting happens among a cast of boring characters, where the least absurd element is Ben’s ability to manipulate the fabric of time.

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2 Responses to “Movie Review: “Cashback””

  1. dddd May 31, 2012 at 1:46 am #

    You obviously didnt understand the movie. He cant freeze time. His warped perceptions from his childhood influence his extreme obsession which leads to his imagination.

  2. Em September 22, 2012 at 3:36 am #

    The women were exposed with such beauty and respect that I don’t see how anyone could have been offended. The film never crossed that line in my opinion.

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