‘Cashing Out’ is one of the better indie films of the year
‘Cashing Out’ may be an independent movie, but do not let that deter you from giving this heist movie a watch. Director Alex Srednoselac manages to engage the audience and coax some superb performances from his cast in this edgy drama.
The movie follows main protagonist Allen (Tyler Mills), who has a talent for poker, but is stuck as a waiter at a pizza joint while also having to take care of his sick father Rich (James Timothy Peters). The movie opens with a poker game being robbed by armed thieves, and initially we are led to believe that Allen is an innocent victim, only for it to be revealed that he was the inside man on the job for his friend Jaqs (Michaela Lichvanova). While he expected this to be a one-time favour for Jaqs, the ease with which they managed to get away with the heist, coupled with Allen’s love for poker, emboldens him. The rest of the story follows Allen and Jaqs as they get even more daring with their heists, with Allen’s lies soon catching up with him, and his choices beginning to have more and more serious consequences.
The movie managed to secure a limited theatrical release in the United States, following a festival run that brought it some acclaim. One of the most interesting tidbits about the movie is that it is somewhat inspired by Srednoselac’s own experiences. The director was a blackjack player in his youth, and turned to poker as well once he was old enough to enter tournaments. It was his desire to tell a more personal story around the world of gambling that brought about this movie.
‘Cashing Out’ is an engaging and honest look at the world of poker and gambling, and while it has the usual trope of the protagonist wanting to play roulette games or poker to get away from his everyday life, it manages to convince the audience to be invested in the main characters. Tyler Mills’ performance as Allen is a big reason for this; he successfully manages to essay the character as someone who essentially has a good heart, despite all the bad people around him who may not have his best intentions in their minds. Lichvanova also does a good job as the complex Jaqs, who shows both tenderness towards her friend Allen and the toughness required from a gang leader. The rest of the cast too stand up and make themselves count.
The camera work is excellent, allowing the actors to be front and center of the action and thus enabling them to fully display the depth of their characters. It is here that the independent nature of the film may come through, with some shots being too dark to make out properly. However, given the gritty, tough nature of the movie, this also plays in its favour and goes with the mood of the movie. The budget restrictions also show themselves in the sound department, but nevertheless, the background score is excellent, complementing what occurs on the screen visually and helping build anticipation when needed. The story is well-written, and the plot twists feel real enough to not come across as too hackneyed or cliched.
Overall, ‘Cashing Out’ is a superb movie, which belies its indie nature. It is well-written, well-directed and extremely well-acted, and succeeds in allowing the audience to be properly invested in the characters and therefore their fates. There might be a few minor irritants here and there as far as the lighting and sound are concerned, but they are not enough to put the viewer off the drama occurring on the screen. With a limited theatrical release now secured, ‘Cashing Out’ would be well worth your time and money.