Review: CASHED ~ Serena Ryen's Poignant Portrayal Of A Day in the Uncertain Life Of An Urban Millennial

By: Nov. 08, 2018

Review: CASHED ~ Serena Ryen's Poignant Portrayal Of A Day in the Uncertain Life Of An Urban Millennial

What is the color of anxiety and desperation in the life of a New York City millennial? What does it mean and feel like to be depleted under the pressures of a fast moving and highly demanding metropolis?

CASHED, Serena Ryen's 15-minute firecracker of a film, fleshes out the answers to these questions, dramatically and poignantly. In doing so, she has taken a large step in fulfilling her self-described commitment "to making art that inspires empathy and ignites questions."

Ryen, an accomplished filmmaker and actress (and a graduate of the Stella Adler School of Acting), in collaboration with Ethan Itzkow, has conceived, written, and produced a bold and unadorned portrayal of a day in the life of a young urbanite whose supply of stability is running out with her supply of pot.

In the opening frames, Jorge Arzac's camera captures the electricity of the city that never sleeps and then shifts to a raucous birthday party, fueled by pizza, alcohol, and weed. At the center of the celebration is 25-year-old Jess (portrayed with startling clarity and realism by Ms. Ryen), It's the morning after when we see Jess in a new and unflattering light, folding into a disheveled mass of nausea and haze. Casting responsibility aside, she oversleeps and loses her job. However, employment becomes secondary to her manic quest for that which will relieve her ~ the solace to be derived from a toke. When she resorts to getting a supply of mj from a guy named Eric (Itzkow), things turn brutally south. But, not without some saving grace. Fast forward...The sweet resolution of this film literally goes up in a puff of smoke.

Ryen and her cohorts give imagery to Jess's ordeal without judgments. The pictures tell the thousand words of an inescapable reality in the life of one young woman...a young woman who may be as depleted in spirit as is her supply of marijuana.

It may be worth pointing out here the meaning of "cashed" for those unfamiliar with the term and, thus, its relevance to the film. The term is used, particularly by youth, to mean a condition of depletion. The wit of this usage lies in the fact that the term also refers to a bowl of weed that has been all used up. You get the drift!

There may be an inclination to find humor in Jess's desperate effort to scrape enough roaches together to roll a joint, but there is an overriding impulse to empathize with her life's dilemma. It's this balance of emotion combined with raw realism that makes CASHED such a fine and compelling film.

Following string of awards and recognition (Best Dramatic Short, Best Cinematography in a Short, and Best Actress from the Colorado International Cannabis and Hemp Film Festival; Best Actress at the Colorado International Activism Film Fest; Semifinalist in the Dances with Films and International New York Film Festival), CASHED will have its world premiere at the Williamsburg Independent Film Festival in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday, November 17th at 8:30 p.m. and is an official selection at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival in Florida and the BLOW-UP Arthouse Film Festival in Chicago.

Photo credit to Jorge Arzac.

Williamsburg Independent Film Festival

Cinema at the Wythe Hotel

Brooklyn, NY


"CASHED" (2017) Official Trailer from Jorge Arzac on Vimeo.