I don't really know what it was about the synopsis of Cashback that made me want to put it in my Netflix queue. Even now, when I go back to reread the synopsis, there's nothing that jumps out at me. Whatever it was, I'm glad it caught my eye because this is a lovely little gem of a film.
This review is for the feature length film; although it was originally released as a short film in 2004, and it was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006 in the Best Short Film Live Action category. Ben, played by Sean Biggerstaff (Oliver Wood in the first two Harry Potter films), is an art student at university who suffers from a horrible case of insomnia after his girlfriend (Michelle Ryan of Bionic Woman fame) dumps him. Since he's already not sleeping, he figures he might as well do something useful with the extra time; so he gets a job as a night janitor at a grocery store.
In a rather interesting plot twist, it turns out that Ben can actually stop time. While most of his colleagues can't wait for the hands to go flying off the clock, Ben stops time to make it go by more quickly. Ben uses his "gift" to deconstruct every molecule of a moment and completely appreciate the beauty that can be found in everything, if one only takes the time to acknowledge it.
Photographer Sean Ellis wrote and directed both versions of Cashback. Ellis is a trained photographer, and he's made a name for himself in the world of fashion photography. For some interesting background, check out his 365 project, completed in 1999. Ellis' photography genius translates well to the silver screen; the cinematography is amazing and nothing short of breathtaking in some scenes.
The feature length film incorporates the entire short film, with a few minor changes, and the DVD actually includes the Oscar-nominated short in the extra features section. Like most independent films, Cashback is driven by excellent character development. Each character is vivid and real, and the actors make their interactions completely believable. When it was over, I wanted to press play again, and start it over from the beginning, just to catch anything I'd missed. Now that's what I call a good movie.