In a record week, Ellis fleshed out a storyline in which art student Ben (played subtly and sublimely by Sean Biggerstaff) runs the adolescent cycle of losing a first love: aching, pining and eventually developing insomnia; then meeting the girl of his dreams, who also serves as his muse. The catch is, upon attaining a dreary nightshift at Sainsbury’s market, Ben discovers his ability to stop and manipulate time.
All the while, Ben is coming to understand the notion of beauty through imperfection. There are moments of poignancy with the first girl he likes as a young boy and when he first feels something for his coworker Sharon (Emilia Fox).
When Sharon is introduced, she’s drearily lit, listless and plain looking. As the film and Ben’s affections toward her progress, she becomes porcelain and ethereal.
Though some characters and scenes are unnecessary, Ellis keeps centered on the artful and emotional draw of time manipulation, slowing down, speeding up and freezing frames. The story becomes less saccharine and leaves one feeling hopeful and keen to notice beauty when it stands ordinary, right before one’s face.
Cashback releases in select theaters on July 20.