86) Cashback (2006) Dir: Sean Ellis Date Released: July 2007 Date Seen: March 28th, 2009 Rating: 3/5
Without having seen the short film writer/director Sean Ellis based his debut feature Cashback (2006) on, I can only say that the transition between 20 and 100 minutes seems warranted. There’s a lot of ground Ellis could have but chose not to cover in this considerably longer version, all of which revolves around the disquieting slow-motion fantasies of Ben Willis (Sean Biggerstaff), our nebbish protagonist. Twee moments with Ben’s dead-end zombie supermarket colleagues are what we get instead, making his beautiful perversion all the more curious.
When we’re introduced to Ben, we find out that his girlfriend has dumped him and since she’s the first real one he’s had, she’s all he can think about. He loses so much sleep over this girl that he takes up a job as a stockboy in a local supermarket just to keep busy and in the process, finds a new way to visualize his impotence. Ben lusts after pretty girls but not in the way that Matt and Sean (Michael Lambourne and Shaun Evans), his moronic but well-meaning horndog colleagues, do. Unlike them, Ben likes to stop time and strip them so he can appreciate their form, their essence and their shaved pussies.
What’s most remarkable about Ellis’ execution of this patently absurd scenario is that he’s almost able to sustain the melancholic tone during these arty porn scenes that’s needed to turn them into something more than just the beautifully creepy fantasies of a lonely young deviant. They’re certainly more gripping than the bland, patented art school voyeurism that American Beauty’s (199) Ricky Fitts indulges in because they’re more obvious and hence more visceral. In looking at these frozen European porn star-types with their Brazilian waxes on full display in various artistic poses and pouts, you can almost understand why Ben believes hyper-sexuality is artistically euphoric.
These fantasies are discomforting because they are pornographic and mysterious, probing the boundary between what’s gauche and haunting. Though Ellis indirectly narratively addresses what kind of therapy these scenes give Ben through his obsession with the comparatively drab Sharon (Emilia Fox), it’s never indirect enough to sustain the quirky allure of those almost controversial scenes. Pity, because as Sharon tells Ben earlier about his paintings, “This tells me so much more than you could ever say.”
Stray quote: "Me likes dat cooch" -an art critic in an Ivan Brunetti cartoon-