When I first came across the trailer for Bill Plympton’s Cheatin’, I knew instantly it was a feast my eyes were starving for. But, I also had no idea what I was getting myself into.
On the Story
Ella and Jake meet, as if by fate, when a bumper car accident tears Jake away from his girlfriend at the time and glues him instead into Ella’s arms. Overwhelmed by passionate love, they marry and share a life of wedded bliss…that is, until another married woman sets her eyes on Jake. Ella is somehow framed as an adulterer and Jake, in a jealous rage, ensues in revenge cheating (although he never confronts Ella on the matter). What was once a very hot marriage instantly transforms into a marriage of secrets, rage, and sadness, as Ella is made aware of her husband’s extramarital affairs. She then consults the only person she thinks can help her: a magician with a banned contraption that promises the ability to put Ella into the bodies of the women her husband is canoodling with. This, inevitably, does not solve anything and only steers our protagonists further into the dark abyss that has become their relationship.
As you can see, this is definitely a film not intended for all viewers, and it is especially not suitable for small children. That being said, what I quickly realized was that a very simple and common story (a couple falls in love, they marry, they run into trouble, and *SPOILER* somehow it works out), ended up being impressively well executed. Let’s face it, nowadays, when it comes to love stories, we all know what the ending will be (with a few rare exceptions). But, without spoiling the film any further, what really kept my attention throughout this film were the little twists and turns within the story that kept me wanting to see the next scene.
On the Animation
The best component of this film, and the biggest reason I became enamored so quickly, is its visual vocabulary. The film is in Bill Plympton’s signature style, which alone garners a lot of attention for its boldness and surprising use of shapes and movement. But, aside from this, the film stands out in the way Mr. Plympton is able to captivate his audience with his use of literal visual metaphors. Expressions like “she can sniff out a sale” and “their passion was electric” are just a couple of ridiculously silly and beautiful examples of how this film is poignantly accented throughout. These expressions, coupled with very choice use of color and artistry, make for visually compelling and hypnotic storytelling.
On the Music
Arguably, two aspects of all films that I tend to overlook are the editing and music. The only time I’m truly able to hunker down and talk about either one of these aspects is when that particular department goes far and beyond the usual caliber expected of the medium. The music in Cheatin’ is a prime example of this. Although the score is a mix between old classical tunes and some original scoring by Nicole Renaud, it is, again, the execution that wins out. The music not only supports the film where it is needed, but also assists in hypnotizing the viewer into complete submission.
Cheatin’ is a prime example of why Indie-Mation is an excellent way of cleansing the palate of mainstream fatigue. the film presents a story that could be told by any major studio with any huge budget, but executes it in a way that is refreshing, original, and captivating. In my eyes, there are only two downsides to this film. One: While the story is incredibly hypnotic and captivating, it does tend to lag in the middle. Viewers will begin to realize they know where the story is going, and the story just continues to pull them in the same direction, until it finally takes a sudden turn that is all too enjoyable. Two: Some of the content is somewhat sexual, which makes it unsuitable for some audiences. However, depending on what one is accustomed to watching in live-action, watching Cheatin’ may be no different than watching the latest teen-focused action film.
Cheatin’ is currently available on Vimeo for digital pre-order. The film will also be available in selected theaters on April 3rd.
What are your thoughts? Are you interested in seeing Cheatin’?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes