dir-scr Sean Ellis
with Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox, Shaun Evans, Michelle Ryan, Stuart Goodwin, Michael Dixon, Michael Lambourne, Marc Pickering, Jared Harris, Janine May Tinsley, Frank Hesketh, Emilia Fenton
release US 20.Jul.07, UK 9.May.08
07/UK Gaumont 1h42
Somewhere in time: Biggerstaff

fox evans ryan
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Cashback Stylishly well-directed and sensitively written, this coming-of-age comedy is a little too mopey and sexist for its own good. But the cast is engaging enough to keep us interested.

Ben (Biggerstaff) is an art student who can't get over the recent meltdown of his relationship with Suzy (Ryan). Unable to sleep, he takes a night job at a local supermarket, tuning out the people around him, including his chucklehead colleagues (Dixon and Lambourne) and his cocky boss Jenkins (Goodwin). On the other hand, he develops an interest in a cashier, Sharon (Fox), and struggles to get up the nerve to do something about it, despite over-eager coaching from his loutish best pal (Evans). Really, nothing much has changed since he was a little boy.

Writer-director Ellis gets nicely into Ben's head, telling the story from a skewed perspective that allows for some time-bending strangeness as Ben grapples with the realities of life on far too little sleep. This cool visual style includes lots of clever camera trickery, which combines intriguingly with the realistic depiction of young adulthood. The tone is comical but nostalgic, with a constant narration that begins to feel slightly pretentious and self-indulgent as it goes along.

There are several genuinely hilarious moments, including a pathetic five-a-side match against a rival supermarket and a completely ludicrous party (although how can the deeply annoying Jenkins have this many friends?). Other plot points are somewhat corny and sappy, but the lively cast rises above this with telling, detailed performances that really get under our skin. Not every character is likeable, although they're all vivid and engaging.

But there's a bigger problem here, as Ben is a stunted creature who sees women as objects--he'd rather draw a picture of one than talk to her, and continually imagines women naked, frozen in time so he can inspect them up close. Sure, he talks a lot about admiring their beauty, but what we see is a rather creepy, leering misogynist. And the film as a whole reflects this perspective, since all the women are beautiful and well-endowed. Which, when done in this kind of reverential style, leaves a rather sour aftertaste.

cert 15 themes, language, nudity, sexuality 29.Feb.08

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