Film: The Triplets of Belleville
(Les Triplettes de Belleville)


Director/writer: Sylvain Chomet (The Illusionist)
Genre: Animated comedy/adventure (2003)

In brief: The Triplets are a 1940s-era singing trio we see briefly at the begining on a black and white TV. Madame Souza’s grandson isn’t so amused by the TV show. In fact, the young boy is generally melancholy. Grandma is determined to find something that pleases him. The new puppy, Bruno, pleases him a little, as does the train set. But Madame Souza desperately wants to see her grandson truly happy. When she finds his scrapbook with the bicycle pictures, she gets an idea. First it’s a tricycle, which produces the first smile we’ve seen so far. As time passes, we see urban sprawl creep up on grandma’s little house, Bruno grows up and Madame Souza’s grandson rides his bike all the time… with grandma now following behind on the tricycle. And the boy now has a name… “Champion.”

It’s a punishing schedule of bike riding. Everyday when they return home, grandma works over Champion’s sore muscles with a vacuum cleaner, an eggbeater and a lawn mower. But Champion is truly happy. Things take a sinister turn, however, when Champion enters the Tour de France and is kidnapped by evil gangsters. Grandma and Bruno set out to rescue Champion, and their pursuit takes them to far-away Belleville. There they befriend three very old, quirky sisters, who turn out to be The Triplets of Belleville. Grandma, Bruno and the triplets devise a plan to rescue Champion… just in time.

It’s hard to say enough good things about Triplets, yet many in the U.S. have never heard of it. The filmmakers are French and the sensibilities are decidedly French, but no need to worry about subtitles. About 20 minutes into this one, I realized that there was no dialog. It’s so well done that you don’t really miss it. That’s not the only unusual thing about Triplets. Not really a cartoon for kids, Triplets pushes the boundaries of how we classify films. It’s imaginative, funny, charming, quirky, naughty, dark and wildly creative. It combines several different animation techniques into a visual candy store. It’s hard to classify this one… part art film, part silly comedy and 100% delightful.

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

Popped kernels for creativity, charm and funky humor. The animation is absolutely wonderful. It's a classic.

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