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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 26.92%
Average: 3.85%
Pretty Bad: 3.85%
Total Crap: 3.85%

3 reviews, 34 user ratings

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Triplets of Belleville, The
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by Erik Childress

"Disney. Pixar. Mayazaki. Chomet?"
4 stars

Through all the years and each more leadfooted trip to the cinema, there’s about an 8% chance that you’re going to see something fresh. That percentage dwindles with each passing year. Animated films have managed to keep that number from going subzero or have kept its own specific genre number much higher. Thanks to Pixar and Hayao Miyazaki, the work getting churned out just keeps flooding in imagination and trumping the less-than-enthusiastic entries out there for families. It’s usually years in-between works for those geniuses though so imagine my delight as a new original has come out of nowhere to widen my eyes a little more.

The Triplets of Belleville is part animation, part silent film. If anyone listened to the film school teacher preaching “don’t tell us, show us” its filmmaker Sylvain Chomet. Telling his little opus without a hint of dialogue, except in the catchy song that opens the prologue and is reprised later, Chomet demands the full attention of his images which cleverly keep our motor neurons on full alert.

Madame Souza is at a loss as to how to make her grandson, Champion, happy. Watching classic television like the performances of the famous song-and-dance Triplets of Belleville bores him. She buys him a dog who brings his sad eyes to life for a bit, but his true passion lies elsewhere. When Madame notices his interest in bicycles, she gets him one and rigourously begins training him to win the Tour de France.

When his big day finally comes, transformed from pudgy youth to ridiculously skinny adolescent, Souza’s grandson is kidnapped by some mysterious men-in-black.determined to use his cycling skills in the big city where the industrial age continues to progress. Madame and the faithful dog Bruno aren’t about to stand for this and plot a rescue attempt to bring the boy home with the unexpected help of those who have been long since forgotten.

There’s such a sense of joy in watching these events unfold that by the time its over you may not even recall not hearing a phrase of spoken dialogue. Chomet meticulously plots each sequence so nearly everything you see has a payoff of its own. From Bruno’s Pavlovian interest in trains to Madame’s clubbed foot, its like playing a childhood game of association when they come into play in totally unexpected circumstances.

Chomet’s narrative does occasionally get bogged down in a leisurely pace, mostly in Souza and Bruno’s transition to their new surroundings, but he more than makes up for it with its wonderfully subversive humor. The treatment of Bruno borders on the ASPCA being one phone-punch away and reality is not to be a factor in certain characters’ dietary habits or the split personalities (so to speak) of the villains. The climactic chase is as prolonged an action sequence you’ve seen all year and is a true original in and of itself.

While rated PG-13 and boasts a lot of attention that labels it as a “foreign” film, this is perfectly entertaining fare for children whose parents allow their imaginations to run wild. With influences that range from Wallace & Gromit to the style of Mr. Magoo, The Triplets of Belleville is dazzling in the simplest of ways putting Sylvain Chomet at the animation’s adult table that still has plenty of room for the kids.

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originally posted: 12/25/03 16:47:34
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/24/12 roscoe awful. one of the worst animated features 1 stars
8/23/11 Annie G Another out there French animated film with little dialog … weird genre. 3 stars
6/11/09 karamashi An incredible film! Surreal and Beautiful. 5 stars
10/02/08 brian Brilliant brilliant brilliant!!!! Best film of the 21st century. 5 stars
9/14/08 Adolf Hitler Unbelievable! Great! Can I watch the movie? I want some money please. 5 stars
3/03/06 sbpat21 so weird, it's wonderful 5 stars
6/12/05 J Howard Each character played their part so well! 5 stars
5/22/05 JFK great animation. Excellent made. not a great story though 4 stars
11/15/04 Gabby Brilliant. Artistically beautful and mesmorising. Intelligent animation. 5 stars
8/20/04 Nessus BOOORING! Glacially slow plot (what plot there is), unsympathetic characters. Pretentious 1 stars
7/30/04 Rus cool animation, but its just retarded french people trying to make fun of america 4 stars
7/28/04 Mike Devans HILARIOUS.... What the hell were these guys on 5 stars
6/17/04 alien assassin an inventive approach to animation 4 stars
5/24/04 DM What the fuck was that? And where can I get some more? 5 stars
5/23/04 john bale Slow paced quirky grotesque but amusing paying some homage to Mr. Magoo. Good music & FX. 4 stars
5/18/04 JoeManco The best song I've heard in a movie in a long time. Hell, the best, period. 5 stars
5/15/04 Lord Durvok 2 This could kick Finding Nemo's ass and should have won the Oscar. 5 stars
5/13/04 Helen Bradley Excellent visually average story very original too long 3 stars
3/26/04 Sarah Wentz Clever, kooky, and worth watching. Also buy the soundtrack! 5 stars
3/23/04 Mitch wow ! I loved it. It was like an animated Jaque Tati film,with "le jazz hot". 5 stars
3/17/04 MF Lunacy, storytelling and good music.. what more could you ask for in entertainment? 5 stars
3/06/04 Jill S. magnifique! 5 stars
3/05/04 davebo a unique style and amusing story 4 stars
3/01/04 Kelley animation was beautiful, way the story was set up w/ little dialog, the music..awesome 5 stars
2/26/04 Meredith Harshaw One giant leap for animation? Perhaps. But one puny stumble for entertainment. 2 stars
2/26/04 Cindy Ames Bizarre -- sometimes inventive but mostly boring. 2 stars
2/26/04 Angolmois Incredible visuals in a surrealistic setting, but the ending is kind of conventional. 4 stars
2/25/04 john wondrously loony 5 stars
2/22/04 Titus Slow at points, but overall quite good. Go see. 4 stars
2/13/04 snowconehead Burns bright, but only for a little while 5 stars
1/28/04 René Cournoyer Musical genius by Benoit Charest 5 stars
1/15/04 Betty White Exceptionally good, unique animated film. 5 stars
1/01/04 Dave Ortega Exceptional animation/wholly original 5 stars
12/30/03 Greg Edmiston Bizarre, humorous, subtle, and a great experience. 4 stars
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  26-Nov-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 04-May-2004



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