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The Triplets of Belleville

Art House & International movie directed by Sylvain Chomet

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  • May 28, 2011
***1/2 out of ****

Good animated films are crafted skillfully. Great ones are made lovingly. Bad ones- and there aren't really many- are made by the imbeciles of the world who should not be working in this field of filmmaking to begin with. But that's just my opinion, as always.

"The Triplets of Belleville" is a very good animated feature that is indeed made with skill, and yes, much craft. It is as much of a feast for the eyes as it is for the imagination; being a wildly intellectual and off-kilter project that speaks very little, yet says so much. This is a high work of originality and imagination; directed by French filmmaker Sylvain Chomet, who went from this to the more recent "The Illusionist". If my senses serve me correctly, Chomet is one of the few animated kings.

The film begins with a boy living with his grandma. The boy is sad and melancholic; depressed and lacking in all happiness. The grandmother gives him a puppy, which cheers him up for a while, but happiness, like most things, is not to last forever. She observes that he has taken up an interest in cycling, so she buys him a tricycle, hoping that he will transform his obsession into profession. This prologue is short, sweet, and to the point; and that's what I like.

Many years later, the world has changed. The house of the lady and the kid has become surrounded by new buildings and a bridge, as well as train-tracks that essentially run right next to the house. The puppy is now an obese mutt. The boy is now a young man; now pursuing his life as an ambitious cyclist, and also now possessing abnormally strange leg-muscles. And the old lady has not changed one bit.

The boy enters the Tour de France; with his grandma following him and his exploits (on the biking-road) in a vehicle. While stopping to take a rest, the boy gets kidnapped by two French Mafia Men, who take him on a boat, which takes them to North America. There, the boy (and several other cyclists) are forced to perform manual labor; such as entertaining men whilst cycling to a picture-show. The boy remains hypnotized by all this; seemingly apathetic about what's going on. But his old lady intends to get him back; and she soon embarks on a quest, along with Bruno the dog, to return the boy safely to their home. Along the way, she shall meet the "triples of Belleville", who were big-time singers from the 30's era.

The film has an eerie charm to it. There is humor, but most of it is either dark, or even better, discreet. Animated films can be funny in the same sense that old cartoons such as "Mickey Mouse" were funny. "The Triplets of Belleville" is funny in many different ways; out of satire, out of slapstick, and out of the cartoonish goofiness that we've all grown accustomed to over the years.

And then there's the animation, which is absolutely beautiful. There I say it; beautiful. "The Triplets of Belleville" is a work of art in more than one way. It looks great; and the story is told efficiently. The animation blends CG and traditional, hand-drawn animation together in one sitting; which makes for an interesting labor-of-love piece of animated filmmaking that can only be described as delightful. The story is told without much- or any- dialogue; which is unique, even for an animated feature. But who says you cannot tell a story through actions and noises? You can. And this film only proves that further.

I suppose if you are in the right mind-set for a film like this one, then see it. "The Triplets of Belleville" is a very good animated feature; complete with superb craftsmanship, beautiful and unique animation, as well as intelligent and often satiric story-telling. It has a "one-of-a-kind" sort of charm to it, as only the greatest of films can, and it really is just plain interesting. What more can I say: "The Triplets of Belleville" is fun and clever; entertaining and fulfilling. You can indeed ask for more out of animation, but honestly, why would you want to, at this instant?

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May 29, 2011
Great film! I aim to see the new one called "The Illusionist" soon...
More The Triplets of Belleville reviews
review by . October 18, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
I seem to be one of those rare folks who didn't like this at all. The first time I saw previews for it I thought it looked incredible. As it turned out, almost everything I liked about it was crammed into the preview. The rest of the movie felt like 70 minutes of filler as they riff on the same "jokes" over and over. As far as I am concerned, the single best scene of the whole movie is over and done with at about 2 or 3 minutes into the movie... the opening black and white scene is great.    It' …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


Words cannot capture the delights ofThe Triplets of Belleville, an astonishing animated movie from the mind of French director Sylvain Chomet. In fact, there are only a few spoken sentences in the entire film; most of the soundtrack is a mix of squeaks, barks, and the jazzy music of Benoit Charest. A bicyclist is kidnapped from the Tour de France by mysterious gangsters; his grandmother travels to the city of Belleville (which has a sardonic version of the Statue of Liberty in its harbor), where she tracks him down with the help of a musical trio gone to seed, the Belleville Triplets. This hand-drawn movie is unlike anything you'll see from Disney; every scene mixes the silent comedy of Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton--in which the world of objects subtly fights with living beings for mastery--and the bouncy hop of Betty Boop. Unique and mesmerizing.--Bret Fetzer
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Director: Sylvain Chomet
DVD Release Date: May 4, 2004
Runtime: 78 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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