NBFF 2014 Reviews: ‘Cheatin’’ and ‘The One I Love’

Friday at the Newport Beach Film Festival found me with a lot of options to choose from. While I had heard many good things about a number of the films featured and had considered attending at least four different films playing around the same time, I ultimately chose to go with Cheatin’ and The One I Love. One is an animated feature from famed cartoonist Bill Plympton, the other was a romantic comedy-drama with a unique twist that I do not plan to spoil here. I found both to be worth watching, especially those in the mood for something a bit off center from the norm.


Cheatin’ (Movie Review)

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It is certainly not wrong, but it is easy to enjoy the films that come from Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, and so on. I can easily enjoy what these big studios have to offer, but it is nice to see some of these smaller animated efforts as well. A favorite animated film of mine from recent years, ParaNorman, may not quite fit the criteria exactly, but The Triplets of Bellville, another favorite, certainly does. Cheatin’ easily falls in this category, as it is a humorous little animated comedy that is also weird, surreal in its presentation, and full of vivid imagination that has been turned into a funky little cartoon for people to enjoy.

The story is fairly straightforward, as it involves a man and a woman falling for each other, only to be driven apart by a jealous ex. That is the least complex way to describe the plot of this movie, but it matters little to consider the actual story, as it is much more about the way writer/director/animator Bill Plympton catapults this couple into a crazy animated ride that features a lot of metaphorical imagery (which is very sexual in places) to go with the animation style, which is unique, to say the least.

Cheatin’ easily makes a number of turns that a viewer will likely not see coming; that’s for sure. The opening of the film definitely does not dictate its end game, as we watch an attractive woman get called out by plenty of men, only to wind up in the arms of an eventual lover, based on a mishap on the bumper cars. Yes, that is the kind of sentence needed to describe the first five minutes of this film. With that said, those familiar with Plympton, who has been working since the mid-70s and has had his art in a variety of different types of media, should certainly be comfortable with the way this film is presented, weirdness and all.

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There are a number of elements in Cheatin’ that easily kept me engaged, as I have enjoyed some of these recent animated efforts, two from director Sylvain Chomet (Triplets and The Illusionist), that rely on music and sound, over dialogue, in an effort to create an interesting world around its story. The way Cheatin’ employs some Meta elements added some value to the way the animation was present, as the film never wants to sink too far in seriousness, especially given the surreal nature of everything being visually presented. I would also say that the dark humor was a nice touch, as it fits this medium quite well. Lastly, the way the end comes together is kind of brilliant, given how established the style of the film is, making anyone who went along for the ride satisfied, at the very least, given how things wrap up.

Given that I watched Cheatin’ at a film festival, I cannot say I won’t see films that are weirder within the week, but I most likely will not see one quite like this. There may be some acquired tastes in mind, when it comes to checking out a full theatrical feature from Bill Plympton, but it hit me in the right way. It has a look that is all its own and is very entertaining for the open-minded.

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The One I Love (Movie Review)

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What lengths can one go to in an effort to save a marriage? That is a question that is not only brought up in The One I Love, but explored in ways that one would not expect. While it would be a disservice to reveal why that is the case, it should be known that there is a realization early on that takes this enjoyable film out of the seemingly ordinary mold it looks to be filling and heads in a whole other direction that will make the film quite memorable, even if the script does not quite nail the landing.

Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass star as Sophie and Ethan, a couple that have lost the spark in their marriage and are looking to get it back. Thanks to arrangements from a marriage counselor, played by Ted Danson, Sophie and Ethan head out to a house in the country for the weekend, in an effort to escape their own lives and possibly rekindle their relationship. While the weekend starts off well enough, an unusual dilemma soon presents itself, making things much more complicated, intriguing, and pretty weird all around.

Yes, I have to be vague, but The One I Love turned out to be a fine film to pair with Cheatin’, in terms of the basic genre the film can be placed under, which is only flipped on its head due to outside factors. For Cheatin’, it was about the style. For The One I Love, it was about a plot development that adds a Kafkaesque dynamic to the weekend that this couple has voluntarily signed up for. I would not say the film turns into a horror movie (although the thought did cross my mind at first), but it does allow for deeper consideration about how to get in touch with a loved one, let alone think about oneself.


The film’s greatest assets are obvious. Both actors are game to play up aspects of their personalities that could be tricky to juggle, but manage to come across quite well, given the nature of this story. Mark Duplass certainly feels more at home with this type of material, given how he needs to play charming and nebbish at the same time in some instances. Moss has some very interesting beats to play, given how we see her interact with her husband, based on the circumstances. The best thing I can say, while remaining frustratingly vague (I apologize), is that she has to do some facial acting that is incredibly impressive, if one is really into the type of story being told and really feeling for her character.

If the film has any problem it is in the way it chooses to dole out information. One the one hand, The One I Love presents a scenario that is hard to describe in any logical sense and the film could be better off by not attempting to. On the other, there is an element in the writing that suggests there was not enough confidence to let things be, which led to a bit more explanation than was maybe needed, ultimately resulting in a film with some ideas that do not need to be expanded on, but also feel unresolved in a way that does not work just because ambiguity is sometimes enjoyable to think about.

Minor issues aside, the performances from this cast that consists of mainly two people, acting in one main location, are solid throughout. There are some neat ideas being presented and I was certainly happier with a film that breaks conventions, within the bounds of an indie, instead of travelling down familiar territory. The ambition certainly wins out in the case of The One I Love.


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Click on the poster to visit the Newport Beach Film Festival website,
and be sure to check back to Why So Blu throughout the week
for more of my coverage of the festival!

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Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com. Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS4.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.



Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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