Caught Cheatin’ at Cinequest

A whimsical look into adultery.

That is the first impression of Bill Plymton’s animated feature, Cheatin’. The quasi-French animation style story, tells of a desirable Ella and her fateful bumper car accident that introduces her to the hunky Jake, and the love affair and eventual marriage that follows.

The tale that supports Cheatin’ is one we’ve all seen before: girl meets boy, girl and boy get married, boy cheats on girl, girl is crushed. Yet what separates Cheatin’ from other tales of woe is its lack of dialogue. Much like the silent films of yore, Cheatin’ relies on subtly and visual cues for tender moments of emotion and heartbreak.

From the opening shot of Ella walking through a country fair and having older dirty men leer at her, to the first time (spoiler alert) Jake cheats on Ella, the films thrives on a seemingly simplistic underscore and various grunts and coos from the voice actors. While the circumstances for which Jake feels compelled to cheat do seem a bit forced, the door it opens is magical, literally.

Plymton provides beautiful visual commentary to the story when depicting Ella’s journey from giving her heart to someone to the depiction of her barren wasteland of a bedroom; it’s both beautiful and terrifying.

Cheatin’ is a fanciful journey through love that uses 2-D animation in a lovely way. Should you be in San Jose, CA for this year’s Cinequest or find it available for viewing, I would highly recommend it.

David C. McGuire

Cheatin’ can be seen at the Cinequest film festival in San Jose, CA at Camera 12 on Mar 5th at 4:45pm and Mar 14th at 9:30pm, or at the California Theatre on Mar 15th at 9:15pm. For more information, visit

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