Triplets of Belleville

  • Title: Triplets of Belleville
  • Country of Origin: France
  • Genre: Animation/Adventure
  • Released: 8 April 2004
  • Run time: 81
  • Director, Writer, Animator: Sylvain Chomet (France)
  • Available on Amazon, iTunes
  • Recommendation by: Brian Magnuson

This animated story is about a search and rescue of a kidnaped French Tour de France cyclist. His rescuer is none other than his grandmother, a caring and resourceful near sighted woman with a short leg sporting a clunky corrective shoe. She is aided by her grandson’s overfed canine and an aged singing group of sisters whose heyday was from the glory days of radio and newsreels, the Triplets of Belleville. In fact, the movie opens with old newsreel footage of the girls performing their bouncy hit song accompanied by several stars of the day including dancing Fred Astaire and wunderkind French guitarist Django Reinhardt.

The modest origin of the film's Tour-de-France-competing-protagonist.

The modest origin of the film's Tour-de-France-competing-protagonist.

The film is charming to watch in every way. It is populated with wonderful characters and familiar renditions of people whom I imagine would be met on the streets of Paris. The language (when there is spoken dialogue) is French and does not detract from an English only viewer. Occasional words of English are spoken but, only when the search continues in America. One has to assume that Belleville is the stand-in for New York, New York because the streets are populated with oversize buildings, oversize cars, and obesely oppressive citizens, Chomet offering a bit of winking snarkiness to the international (and especially American) viewer.

For one who has no experience in the land of escargot and Brigitte Bardot, Sylvain Chomet, the writer, director and animator of this gem, draws the observer into the world of his characters and their daily lives. The settings, the hand drawn characters of every shape and size, generous usage of cigarette smoking, sound effects and oddly yet not quite familiar trucks and cars will draw you into the world that you feel is French in every way, even during a climactic chase scene in America using the classic Citroen deathtrap automobiles. 

All’s well that ends well in this finely crafted film. It leaves you with a final scene that may make you think that it was a movie within a movie but, I highly recommend this to escape to another world populated by a culture you may find unfamiliar. For feelings of cultural immersion (FCI) I give this film, The Triplets of Belleville, five out of five globes.

Review by Brian Magnuson

The loving caricature of New York, NY... I mean Belleville.

The loving caricature of New York, NY... I mean Belleville.

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