Friday, April 3, 2015

Movie with Abe: Cheatin’ (Capsule Review)

Directed by Bill Plympton
Released April 3, 2015

There are many ways to tell a story, film being one of them. After that, there are gradual levels of creativity possible, and animation is another layer. Some films use different types of animation to distinguish themselves and be imaginative. Bill Plympton’s “Cheatin’” employs hand-drawn animation that in itself is quite striking to watch, and lets his art do all the talking in a film that has plenty of sounds but no dialogue. As a result, his film’s story has an added poignancy because of its stark and mesmerizing visual presentation, complemented by a purposely discomforting lack of aural support.

Following even the broader plot of “Cheatin’” requires attention to detail, but its title offers a helpful clue. Much of the events in the film can be described as occurring at a whirlwind pace, from the bumper car collision that first introduces the film’s two protagonists to the infidelity that later threatens to tear the couple apart. Its impact is felt in the way in which it visually plays out on screen, with exaggerated figures emphasizing the meaning of each moment. Plympton’s use of colored pencils to create the backdrops is particularly effective, enabling a haunting and captivating tale to come to life. Not all will enjoy 76 minutes of near-silence, but those with an interest in allowing animation to guide a film should certainly check it out.


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