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Monday, April 6, 2015

CHEATIN' Is Not Your Average Crime of Passion Drama

In the saturated market of crime of passion dramas (Fatal Attraction, Gone Girl, etc), it is always refreshing to see a filmmaker like Bill Plympton go outside the box to create a strangely alluring animated contribution to the genre -- even if it fails to truly connect with the audience. CHEATIN', with its hyper stylized look and absence of dialogue, will likely be the type of film that polarizes audiences who will either love it for its originality or hate its pretentiousness.

I actually belong to both categories; I intensely love the film until I don't. Meaning, beyond its dark humor, erotic passion and deviant narrative, I never feel like I really know the actual characters beyond this one moment in their lives and beneath the film's artistic sophistication. I actually wish it was more lowbrow in its approach (or at least had dialogue).

As the story goes (and without giving away any major plot details), Ella and Jake meet by chance at a carnival, fall madly in love and get married. They have a lot of great, clutch-the-covers sex, they're the envy of everyone around them. and things are going really well. Until they're not. Infidelity becomes a contentious third wheel in their relationship, so much so that Ella resorts to an elaborate crime of passion to keep Jake. Trouble is, they still love each other deeply yet feel they both have a score to prove. Thus sets off a surreal game of love and murder.

CHEATIN' has a real knack for illustrating a fascinating moment that just so happens to involve characters. Plympton doesn't seem to spend a whole lot of developing the people in this story, but his attention to the scope of each scene (the music, the setting and the colors) gives it gripping visual aesthetic. But the film ends up being more of a meditation on lust, manipulation and romance than anything else. It's interesting to watch, but is not as complete as it should have been.

Rating: B- (*** out of *****)

CHEATIN' is now playing in New York City and will roll out to the following cities: Chicago, San Francisco, Seattale, Minneapolis, Denver, Portland and others throughout April. It will be available nationwide exclusively on Vimeo on Demand on April 21.


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