Id­iots and An­gels,

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images -

She’s pretty, but to him, she’s lit­tle more than prop­erty. The bar’s reg­u­lar pa­trons in­clude an over­weight ex-pros­ti­tute and a my­opic fel­low with a cross­word-puz­zle fetish. Like the an­gry man, they are crea­tures of habit. But that’s about to change.

When a cater­pil­lar turns into a fully formed but­ter­fly atop the an­gry man’s head, vi­sions of some­thing dif­fer­ent — a bet­ter life — be­gin to in­vade ev­ery­one’s sub­con­scious. The pros­ti­tute be­comes a pop­u­lar bur­lesque dancer with but­ter­fly wings. The bar owner changes the name of his es­tab­lish­ment to the But­ter­fly Bar, puts the chrysalis on dis­play, and his busi­ness picks up dra­mat­i­cally. The mop-push­ing bar­maid frol­ics through a meadow and falls in love. All of those dreams are crushed, rather lit­er­ally, when the an­gry man squeezes the life out of the but­ter­fly — and does so with ab­so­lute rel­ish. But what comes around goes around.

The an­gry man awak­ens one morn­ing to dis­cover two feath­ered wings pro­trud­ing from his shoul­der blades. He tries to get rid of them, but they grow back, ever larger. He at­tempts to con­trol their flap­ping with chains and chain­saws, to no avail. He’s taunted by bar pa­trons, but the bar owner sees op­por­tu­nity (or money, at least) in those freak­ish ap­pendages. He’s not the only one. Sud­denly, the an­gry man is a re­luc­tant “wing­man,” and ev­ery­one wants a piece of him. Two pieces, ac­tu­ally.

Id­iots and An­gels is darkly drawn, both vis­ually and nar­ra­tively. Plymp­ton shows an ap­ti­tude and deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion for comedic film noir in this bril­liantly ex­e­cuted mix of hu­man ug­li­ness and grudg­ing soul-search­ing. An­i­mated in pen­cil with a sub­dued pal­ette and as­ton­ish­ing flu­id­ity, Id­iots and An­gels un­folds like a se­ries of vi­o­lent tone po­ems, each one linked by a thread of ma­li­cious­ness braided with weak ten­drils of hope and com­pas­sion.

Plymp­ton gives a shell of a man the mir­a­cle of or­ganic flight and a sec­ond chance at hap­pi­ness, and then shows you how those op­por­tu­ni­ties can be squan­dered, mis­ap­pro­pri­ated, and thwarted. An un­will­ing an­gel loses con­trol of his com­fort­able bit­ter­ness and, against his will, be­gins to feel some­thing ap­proach­ing em­pa­thy. In­stead of em­brac­ing it, how­ever,

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