Not rated | 1:16
“Cheatin’” isn’t so much a story as it is a showcase for talented animator Bill Plympton, whose dialogue-free film about romance and jealousy both dazzles and fizzles.
It dazzles with some of its breathtaking, surreal set-pieces, heightened by the enchanting score of Nicole Renaud (the opening few minutes at a carnival are particularly strong). It fizzles with its lack of coherent narrative and emotional depth: Even cartoons can use a modicum of character development.
The sketchy story concerns the relationship between Jake and Ella, who meet when their bumper cars collide. The thrilling bumper car scenario has way more heft than any of the purported romantic feelings — or infidelity issues — that ensue.
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This is an experience where you can’t help but admire the wicked display of imagination, yet also can’t escape the feeling that it’s too long, even at a modest running time of 76 minutes. This is a short masquerading as a feature.
Die-hard fans of animation will enjoy watching an indie master like Plympton at work here. The rest of us may be left wanting a little more.
(At Screenland Crossroads.)
| David Lewis,
San Francisco Chronicle