SM1008 Art of Moving Image
Director: Sean Ellis
Actors: Sean Biggerstaff (Ben Willis, an art student), Emila Fox (Sharon, a checkout girl in the supermarket), Shaun Evans (Sean, best friend of Ben), Michelle Ryan (Suzy, the ex-girlfriend of Ben)
Genre: Comedy, Drama and Romance
Release Date: 31 May 2007
Have you ever think about freezing the time? What will you do in the extra time if you suffer from
insomnia? These are the situation that Ben Willis in. In Cashback, time is a very important
element. Therefore, I will write about (1) the speed of motion in the cinematography. Also, a
voice-over of Ben is appeared throughout the whole movie. I will write about (2) the narrator
and (3) causality of the narrative form. Finally, I would like to write about (4) the music in some
When Ben goes through a painful break-up with Suzy, he develops insomnia. To kill time, he
starts working the late night shift at the supermarket. There he meets a colorful cast of
characters, all of whom have their own ‘art’ to deal with the boredom of eight-hour shift. Ben’s
art is that imagining the time is frozen. He can appreciate the beauty of the frozen world and the
people, especially Sharon, who may hold the answer for Ben.
(1) Speed of motion
In Cashback, large amount of scenes change the speed of motion, including slow motion and the
extreme case, time lapse.
According to Bordwell and Thompson (p.172), there are two functions of using slow motion that
are being used in Cashback, (i) emphasis, becoming a way of dwelling on a moment of spectacle
or high drama and (ii) actions take place in dream or fantasy or to convey enormous power. I
think there is also (iii) other reason of using the slow motion in this film.
(i) Emphasis, a moment of spectacle or high drama
(a)In the football match scene, the team of Ben is falling behind without any score. They discuss
about the strategy and they have determination to score one point.
The whole process of Ben controlling the football and his boss shooting the goal is in slow motion.
It emphasizes the morale of the whole team.
After the failure of shooting the goal, you can see the ball flying over the boss slowly and the
disappointing facial expression of the boss. It gives a moment of high drama. Then, the speed of
motion becomes normal. Ben’s boss is hurt by the football, which is shooting by the teammate
and brings the match to the end.
(b) In the kissing scene, Ben is second time kissed by Sharon. The kiss breaks the spell. Ben can
finally fall in asleep after the kiss. It is an important scene so it changes the normal speed to slow
motion in order to emphasize the importance since Ben is suffered from insomnia and the pain of
break up for a few months.
(ii) In dream or fantasy or to convey enormous power
(a) Ben and Sean go to find the stripper for the performance in the boss’s birthday party. Ben
imagines that Sharon has a strip dancing for him when the stripper is praising the quality of
another stripper. The imagined strip-dancing scene is in slow motion because it is only a fantasy
in Ben’s mind.
(b) At the opening scene, Suzy is arguing with Ben after he suggests breaking up. The voice-over
of Ben said that it is first real break up in front of him and he never thought it was going to be
similar to a car crush. Although it is Ben’s suggestion, the voice-over confesses this is a great
impact to Ben. Therefore, it uses slow motion. The same thing is done again in the arguing scene
between Sharon and Ben.
(c) After the break up, the image of Suzy always appears in Ben’s mind. He always thinks of the
time being with Suzy. All these memories again appear in slow motion, as it is a great deal and
the reason of Ben’s insomnia. He cannot forget these happy memories.
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