The full-length feature by Bill Plympton is an exquisite and thrilling take on the all too familiar scenario of marital paranoia on cinema. ‘Cheatin’ reaps all the benefits of being an animation with its playful no holds barred approach and sensibility that deserves to be seen by the general public.
In the last few years Kickstarter have single-handedly proved that empowering the general public, to freely decide which underrated and/or underexposed projects should see the light of day, can be highly beneficial to artistry and the market as well. From record-breaking videogames to deceptively simple butter knifes, it's not hard to find interesting projects to adopt. Fortunately, Bill Plympton decided to take his chances at crowdfunding, and came out a winner on the other side.
What’s interesting to note is that Bill Plympton is no novice animator nor storyteller, his works have graced screens throughout the world since 1977. After mastering the short film format, the director had the chance to flex his muscles with seven feature films (Idiots and Angels is quite worthy of praise as well). So it is baffling to see a veteran animator having to complete his film through crowdsourcing, this says a lot about the current movie industry and internal politics. No wonder numerous independent filmmakers are saying grace to new possibilities of financing and distribution.
Just like any book that relies on images as its main selling point, the opening sequence demands your attention, slowly introducing the world our heroine inhabits like a slow turning of pages. From the get go the hand-drawn aesthetics are explicitly used, and every shot proudly showcases beautiful watercolor tones. For this element alone Cheatin is worth a look, however Plympton’s world is much more than a visual marvel.
The film is very self-aware that it doesn’t have any spoken dialogue, in this case it really doesn’t matter, the potency lies in great interactions pushing the plot forward in a hypnotic rhythm. This is the type of movie to show any sceptics and disbelievers how much a solid screenplay can achieve through animation. It doesn’t leave any room for doubting the strength of the media, this is a clear example on how much animation can be of great benefit in telling emotional tales.
Cheatin is a daring title since it already foretells what the charming main couple will be put through. Nevertheless the script manages to infuse every small scene with so much personality and increasingly so much drama, that such a classic scenario becomes much more than a ‘who’s to blame?’. As stated before, the benefits of an animation are unparalleled, there are no limits to what kind scenario or even camera angle can be achieved, the director uses every trick in the book and maneuvers to keep it fresh and humorous.
Film releases have been plagued time and time again by bureaucratic movie distributors limiting the timing and regions that can even promote a movie; it’s no wonder so many films never find a wide audience, or even its deserved niche. Vimeo is a well-known platform for online streaming, mostly known for championing short movies from all over, as well the home for fans of high fidelity of image and sound. Alongside many other video-on-demand options, Vimeo continues its streak of great taste highlighting award winning and independent filmmakers, hence the perfect home for Cheatin to be available worldwide. This business model of launching movies in parallel to theaters is slowly changing the scenario of how people consume media, it is very important to pay attention and celebrate pioneer body of works that dare to go against the wave.
For animation enthusiasts, this is a great opportunity to behold a style often found in short films; the hand-drawn & watercolor combo rarely gets the chance to hold its own on the center stage of a full-length feature film. Thanks to Plympton’s resilience and the support of a legion of fans, anyone with a stable internet connect can witness a beautifully made film and, as a bonus, be a part of a business model that can bring many more hidden gems to light.
Written by Mateus Andrade for Auctoritas