Back in college, I had a roommate by the name of Dave. We lived together for the final two years of school, and we did little outside of watching movies and television. He remained in New Brunswick with his girlfriend after graduation, in an apartment just off campus at our old stomping grounds of Rutgers. From time to time, I would go up to see him, and we’d spend the day gorging ourselves on the fine cuisine that can be found on Easton Avenue, and watching movies. On one of those occasions, Dave suggested a movie that he had already seen, and told me, “I don’t think you’re going to like this movie.” I scoffed, and he insisted that we watch it anyway.
That movie was Cashback, and it blew me away. A British film released in 2007, and what could reasonably be classified as a dramatic comedy, Cashback revolves around an art student who loses the ability to sleep after a traumatic breakup with his first real girlfriend. Now having to deal with the emotional pain of that separation for every minute of every day, Ben (Sean Biggerstaff, who you may know for his role as Oliver Wood in the first two Harry Potter films) decides to take a night shift job at Sainsbury’s, a United Kingdom-based supermarket chain. There, he meets a cast of characters, including a cocky, misogynistic boss, two juvenile pranksters, and a beautiful but bored dreamer. As Ben muddles through the mundane duties of hourly work, which are made all the more difficult by going sleepless for weeks, he narrates in great detail his feelings about his surroundings, as well as how he developed an awareness of sexuality and the beauty of the female body during his childhood. As he struggles admirably to get over his ex, he shrugs off, and at times, reluctantly accepts advice from his womanizing best friend Sean (Shaun Evans), whose over-the-top perversion provides for many of the movie’s laughs. His insomnia causes him to lose his mind to the point that he starts imagining that he can stop time and wander freely through this frozen world, remaining unnoticed all the while. He illustrates this in one scene by undressing several women in an aisle of the supermarket, sketching their nude bodies, and then returning them to their original positions. When he’s ready, all he has to do is crack his fingers to make time start again.
Ben begins to find a kindred spirit in Sharon, the aforementioned dreamer (Emilia Fox), and soon falls in love with her. She breaks his spell of sleeplessness, but he must win back her trust after she sees “the wrong second of a two-second story” at a party they both attend. Cashback is funny, moving, and thought-provoking. The film focuses on the beauty that can unexpectedly found in life, while the dramatic score and artistic cinematography enrapture you through every scene. You should not miss this incredible film.