Film - Cash Only

Chris Smith pays his dues at Raindance and watches Cash Only...

Two years ago ago, Elvis Martini did something stupid and his wife paid the price. An insurance scam went wrong and now he's a single father, in debt to a loanshark, and a landlord to a building under risk of foreclosure. When evicting a tenant leaves Elvis with an unexpected windfall, he thinks his luck is finally turning. However, the money belongs to someone else and Elvis' daughter is snatched in revenge. Elvis now has only hours to raise $25,000 or his daughter will pay the price.

Written by Detroit native, Nickola Shreli who stars as Elvis, Cash Only is a smart, modern noir. Drawing upon his own experiences as an Albanian-American and a former landlord, Shreli has created a character who is relatable - perhaps even likeable. He isn't perfect - far from it -but he is trying to do right by his daughter and live with his past mistakes. The pressure he is under from the bank and the people he owes money to offers an understandable rationale for why he does some thing so stupid as to steal a bag of illicit cash from a tenant. Likewise, when Elvis is struggling to scrape the money together, he uses his position as a landlord in such an a inventive and original way. These decisions elevate Cash Only far beyond the usual gangster movie all too common these days.

Malik Bader's direction is spot on and he and Shreli make a formidable team. Bader's cameo as Elvis' pot-growing tenant, Kush, adds a dash of humour to the film as well as setting up the solution to Elvis' problems. Bader isn't afraid of violence as the bloody climax proves but, again contrary to a lot of films in the genre, violence is rare and used to great effect.

Cash Only is visceral, grim, and suspenseful and the product of two great talents.

Image - Nickname Projects Inc
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