The Triplets of Belleville Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ April 18, 2015
A wonderful dialogue-free animation - funny, odd and enchanting - that relies on a superb artwork, a fabulous sound design and an enormous attention to its eccentric details, surreal touches, inventive scene transitions and extremely imaginative character traits.
Super Reviewer
½ January 9, 2009
Imaginative and completely engrossing. Chomet's animation is downright other-worldly. A must see.
Super Reviewer
½ May 22, 2012
A grandmother and a dog track a kidnapped bicyclist to New York City and free him with the help of a trio of elderly singers. Initially, it's difficult to enter the peculiar, nearly silent retro-world created by animator Sylvain Chomet---which is equal parts slapstick, surrealism, and French impressions of 1920s American gangster movies---but it's well worth the effort.
Directors Cat
Super Reviewer
½ November 10, 2011
As heartwarming as it is surreal and strange, The Triplets of Beleville is a very charming animated story with a good plot and terrific animation. It's very imaginative and one of the best examples of the finest traditionally drawn animated films of the 2000's. Which was the time when the type of animation was dying out only to be replaced by computer animated litter.
Super Reviewer
July 14, 2009
The animation is funky, the music is a trip and the characters are touching... all with virtually no dialogue! It's very like a silent film, where the music does the work for you, and if nothing else, it's visually and aurally pleasing enough to hold your attention. Cute story, a visual treat, one of the most original films you'll ever see. Hung with Disney in the Best Animated Oscar race in its day.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ January 3, 2011
For his first film, Sydney Chomet does extremely well with the cleaver storyline and the music (which was very catchy).
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
July 28, 2010
In my review of WALL-E (2008), I praised the film for being a reminder of the power and relevance of silent cinema, taking it as a hint to audiences that snappy dialogue is not the be-all and end-all in modern movie-making. But there is an earlier, perhaps more distinctive example of the virtues of silent film, an animation which focuses not on robots packing waste in outer space, but an obese dog and an elderly woman with an orthopaedic shoe. Welcome to the strange and quirky world of Belleville Rendezvous.

Belleville Rendezvous (known elsewhere as Les Triplettes de Belleville) is equal parts a Tati-esque surrealist comedy, a parody of French and American life, an offbeat crime drama and a charming story about a very odd family. It is also almost completely silent; with the exception of the eponymous triplets, who sing three times, and the flash-forward to an elderly Champion at the end, there is no dialogue whatsoever.

The film owes a massive debt to Jacques Tati?s Monsieur Hulot?s Holiday, in its style of comedy, use of sound effects and the way in which the circumstances escalate as more characters get introduced. Although there is next-to-no dialogue, the film utilises the sounds of ordinary objects to express the changing moods of the characters. Sylvain Chomet takes something as simple as two notes being blown on a whistle and manages to get three or four different emotions out of them in the space of two scenes. Scenes such as this are clear proof of Aldous Huxley?s dictum that ?after silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.?

Purely on a design level, Belleville Rendezvous is captivating. Surrealism has produced its fair share of extraordinary designers ? just look at David Lynch?s artwork if you don?t believe me. But Chomet?s designs and caricatures are beautiful in their oddness. You grin at the very sight of them, and wonder why no-one else had thought of drawing mafia henchmen with raised, square shoulders. Even when his subject is at its most stereotypical (apparently, all Americans are fat), the characters feel like individual works rather than lazy mass production.

Because silent films cannot wow us with sparkling one-liners or shock us with Sexy Beast levels of swearing, they rely primarily on physical gesture and humour to make us bond with the characters. And Belleville Rendezvous has ample quantities of both. Chomet draws his characters with emotion deeply ingrained into their faces, and their distorted physicality instantly tells us all we need to know about them. Take the fawning, sycophantic waiter, who quite literally bends over backwards to assist his customers and never stops smiling even when he is bawling at the henchmen?s feet.

The humour in Belleville Rendezvous is distinctly childlike. There is an old-fashioned innocence to the jokes and sound effects which are more likely to provoke a polite chuckle than an adolescent snigger. Some of the jokes are very obvious ? using a grenade to catch frogs for instance ? but others are ingenious and clever because they could easily be attempted in real life. In fact, some of them already have ? the scene of the triplets playing a song with nothing but a newspaper, a bike wheel, a vacuum cleaner and the shelves of a fridge came about through the experiments of the film?s composer, Benoît Charest.

The acclaimed Scottish filmmaker Bill Forsyth once described his film Local Hero as ?Brigadoon meets Apocalypse Now?, pitting the mythical, fictitious Scotland against the thread of American imperialism. And like the Scotland in Local Hero, you get the sense that the France of Belleville Rendezvous only exists in someone?s imaginations. Aside from vague references to Charles de Gaulle and the odd dated poster, it feels instead like a collection of nostalgic mementos which blend together to form an idealistic vision of the past.

Unlike the ultramodern CG techniques of Pixar, or the highly-advanced stop-motion of Nick Park or Henry Selick, Chomet?s animation has a pastel, painterly quality to the drawings which create a real sense of intimacy between artist and audience. The music is closer to Fred Astaire than John Williams, and the whole film has a dreamlike quality which puts the viewer in a languid frame of mind. The dog?s dream sequences, which are shot in black-and-white, are some of the weirdest moments in the film (and that?s saying a lot). The sense of abstraction in these scenes are reminiscent of Salvador Dali?s work, while shooting them in black-and-white is a possible reference to A Matter of Life and Death (in one interpretation, all the heaven sequences take place in David Niven?s head).

On top of all this, Belleville Rendezvous is a very good alternative family film. There are certain moments which are questionable even at PG level ? the early scene of a topless black woman dancing in a skirt made of bananas will lead many (myself included) to cringe. But the film makes an admirable effort in bringing out the darker side of these circumstances, whether it?s the loneliness of Champion before he gets his first bike, or the crazed bookie with a handgun, who slightly resembles Laurence Oliver as in Marathon Man. The final chase sequence between the cyclists and the stretched Citroen 2CVs is inventive and intense, with a great combination of tension and humour throughout.

Despite all these plus points, there are a couple of problems with Belleville Rendezvous. Although there is very little troubling content in individual scenes, the first few minutes of the film are very slow, and young children may be bored before Champion first gets on his bike. Certainly if children are more used to films with frequent explosions and shouted dialogue, they will struggle to stay with it even as the visual gags build.

A bigger problem, from a more adult point of view, is the extent to which the film?s appeal relies on its quirkiness and charm rather than anything more substantial. Quirkiness and charm are all well and good, but unless they are anchored by deeper themes the film can quickly become irritating and self-indulgent. While the film never tips over into the territory occupied by Little Miss Sunshine or Elizabethtown, there are individual moments in which Chomet?s weirdness becomes overbearing. The film is only 78 minutes long, and that?s probably a good thing.

In spite of these difficulties, Belleville Rendezvous is still a sure-fire oddball hit. Its distinctive animation style and retro sensibility are immediately appealing to anyone without a heart of steel, and older viewers will delight in picking up on all the references to Tati, Dali and the like. Whether Chomet can continue this impressive work on The Illusionist remains unclear, but seven years on his feature-length debut remains a quirky, charming gem.
Super Reviewer
½ May 11, 2007
Very unique in it's animation and story telling style. Great soundtrack.
Super Reviewer
January 27, 2007
I really liked this movie - it's vivid, fun and incredibly meticulous in its creativity. Thinking that some of the quirk found here came from just one man's mind makes you really love the human race. The trim running time promises that it won't overstay its welcome, which keeps the characters from getting thin or the complete absence of dialogue from becoming a weak point. It does seem a little TOO quick sometimes, almost as if there wasn't enough time to stop and enjoy the ride a bit; I found myself wanting to spend a bit more time with all these badass old ladies, to be honest.

Also, what's with whimsical French comedies being filmed in primary sepia tones? They all have this really ugly, dull oppressive orangeness about them. Amelie, City of Lost Children, Delicatessen, this...I just don't like it.
Super Reviewer
½ September 18, 2007
Original and funt to watch, adding some nice black humour, and a satire about both american and french stereotypes. This a very unique film for all the right reasons. Best animated dog i have seen in ages.
Super Reviewer
½ February 3, 2008
One of the most unique animated films of all time, Les Triplettes de Belleville is a must see for anyone who wants a unique viewing experience.
Super Reviewer
May 31, 2007
Large cartoon noses and old frenchies galore!
Super Reviewer
½ January 31, 2008
Visually interesting, quirky and amusing with a sound track that's to die for!
Super Reviewer
January 26, 2008
Charming animated tale of a grandmother's unswerving devotion to her grandson. Wonderful songs and touching sentiment make words unnecessary.
Super Reviewer
½ May 30, 2006
This is a strange French animated feature that combines interesting and absurd visuals, a satirical sense of humor, and sweet lead characters. It also combines jazz, noir, mafia, bicycle racing, frogs, and car chases into a great comedic mix.

The story involves a shy boy living with his grandmother. In an effort to raise his spirits, she gets him a loving dog, who develops a dislike for trains. She also buys him a bicycle.

Years later, the boy has grown up into a very skinny, but trained bicycle rider who plans to race in the Tour de France. Unfortunately during the race, he and some other racers are kidnapped by the mafia, to provide for their own schemes.

Now it is up to the Grandmother and her dog to find the boy. They have to travel to the grand city of Belleville to find him, and eventually gain the help of the famed singers - the Triplets of Belleville.

There is no real dialog in this movie. There are some French songs and background voices from crowds and the TV, but no character speaks in this film. It is all about its music and having the characters recognize the actions that must be taken.

The animation style is wonderful, using hand drawn mixed with some CG elements, to create this unique world with literal translations of characters based on what their personalities essentially have them doing.

The result is a film that looks and sounds great. You feel for some of these characters, enjoy what is going on, and are immersed into this unique world. It may not be for everyone and their are some dark elements to earn it the PG-13 rating to discourage younger children, but I love watching and listening to this movie.
Super Reviewer
½ July 9, 2007
This is by far one of the most amazing, original animated films I've ever seen. I've never seen a style like this ever, and it's magical. It takes place in France, and involves a young man with a passion for cycling driven by his grandmother. When he enters the Tour de France he is abducted by mysterious suited men and then it becomes about the grandmother's search for her grandson when she teams up with three aging, eccentric singing ladies. What's especially extraordinary about this film is that its told entirely without the use of dialogue, in this manner almost like a silent film except the singing, music, and other sound in the film is absolutely wonderful, integral, and part of its charm. The animation technique and style is great, in some instances other mediums were used (the ocean in the film actually appeared to be real water with animation overlayed). There is an abundance of originality in the characters and how this world is portrayed. It's also very sweet and has a great, amazingly charming story. This is a landmark in animated film, everyone should see it.
Super Reviewer
½ June 14, 2007
Super Reviewer
½ January 18, 2013
A surreal, hilarious, and gorgeously animated movie, The Triplets of Belleville will charm you into submission and acts as a wonderful reminder that truly original movies still exist. It tells the story of Madame Souza, a grandmother whose son is kidnapped by the French mafia whilst biking in the Tour de France. Mme Souza, along with her lovably lazy dog Bruno and three aging singers known as The Triplets of Belleville, will stop at nothing to save her son from his kidnappers. The movie is so much fun to watch, with a unique sense of humor and many moments of creative genius, including two or three scenes that show Bruno's dreams that often involve trains, which he holds a lasting grudge against after his tail was run over by a toy train when he was a puppy. In all honesty, I can't imagine how someone could dislike a movie like this; there's so much to enjoy about it, from the beautifully simple 2D animation to the near constant strangeness to the wonderful deadpan sense of humor. The Triplets of Belleville is so daring, so creative, and so thoroughly entertaining that it's easy to fall in love with. This is the kind of movie that you can watch over and over again without ever getting tired of it, and the kind that deserves to be seen and shared with others.
Super Reviewer
November 30, 2012
Wonderfully imaginative and far more of a positive effort than the creators' more recent Illusionist which just sucks the belief out of you by the end. A fabulous unique cartooning style that dazzles the senses.
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