It's no small task to have your indie film end up in theatres these days. It's especially difficult if you're not attached to one of the indie or Hollywood distributors. So, you have to give major kudos to Chicagoland area filmmaker Alex Srednoselac for working through the bureaucracy of theatrical distribution and putting together a 10-theatre, 5-state theatrical release for his latest indie production, the crime drama Cashing Out.
Filmed in both Northwest Indiana and parts of Illinois, Cashing Out tells the story of Allen (Tyler Mills), an aspiring poker player whom we meet in one of those seemingly seedy settings where he's hunkered down with a group of guys playing what appears to be a rather high-stakes game of poker. When armed thieves break into the game and escape with all the cash, it at first seems like everyone present is a not so innocent victim until it's revealed that Allen himself was involved as an inside man to what he believed to be a one-time, limited gig for his partner, Jaqs (Michaela Lichvanova).
However, the ease with which Jaqs was able to pull off the crime proves to be seductive and before long Allen finds himself torn between managing his relationship with Jaqs, caring for his ailing father, and just plain following his passion for playing poker. As his choices begin to have more and more serious consequences, Allen's life begins to spiral out of control as past meets present and they both may determine his future.
Cashing Out begins its theatrical run on January 15th at the Portage 16 in Portage, Indiana with subsequent screenings over the next couple of weeks in Noblesville, IN (Hamilton 16) and Lafayette, IN (Eastside 10) along with runs in Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Holland (MI), Batavia (IL), Savoy (IL), Gibsonton (FL), and Columbia (MO). For more precise information on screenings, be sure to check out the film's website linked to in the credits.
The theatrical run for Cashing Out follows a brief indie fest run that snagged some acclaim for the film at fests including Anaheim International Film Festival, Dreams Come True Film Festival and AltFF Alternative Film Festival.
Cashing Out tells an engaging story, a story somewhat inspired by Srednoselac's own experiences as he started playing blackjack tournaments just after turning 21 before eventually finding his way into poker. Desiring to tell a more personal story than is often found in poker-themed films, Srednoselac has crafted a film that has both a more intimate element and the usual elements of intrigue and suspense one expects from the world of poker.
The film's ensemble cast is, for the most part, strong, though lead Tyler Mills is a definite stand-out as a young man who seems to have essential goodness existing in a complex world with people who may or may not have his best interests at heart. Michaela Lichvanova also shines along with John D. Carver.
Srednoselac and Melissa Hansell share lensing duties for the film and do a nice job of capturing the film's more personal moments, while successfully building up the suspense when necessary. Hansell also shares a story credit for the film with Srednoselac.
The low-budget Cashing Out is occasionally hindered by its budgetary constraints, most notably in the area of sound though the film also has a couple of scenes during its nearly two-hour running time that are just a tad too dark. These are minor distractions, though, and there are times in the gritty world in which the film is set that the budgetary constraints actually work to its advantage.
Cashing Out is an engaging, entertaining experience and it's a major accomplishment for the film to snag that prized limited theatrical release. It gives audiences an opportunity to support an up-and-coming indie filmmaker along with a host of up-and-coming actors, actresses, and other film professionals who worked on the film. This is a film that's easily worth your time and your hard-earned cash.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic