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The Triplets of Belleville (Les Triplettes de Belleville) (2003)

  Directed by: Sylvain Chomet
Written by: Sylvain Chomet
Links: The Triplets of Belleville on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Cartoon/Animation

This movie gets: 8.00 (2 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 53rd of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

The Triplets of Belleville (Les Triplettes de Belleville) (2003) is also mentioned in pearly's review of Howl's Moving Castle (2004).

"It's not the music that's slightly off-key" - a review by mino

Les Triplettes de Belleville is the kind of movie I should love. It's a quirky, fun, at-least-partially-family-friendly animated film with a rather happenin' soundtrack which tells a very different story to most animated movies. All of that should combine to make a film which is right up this little black duck's alley. Unfortunately, it's not — but I can't quite put my finger on why.

It's the story of a loving grandmother, Madame Souza, who lives a rather sedentary life with her orphaned grandson, known only as Champion. Champion grows up obsessed with bike-riding, and with his grandmother's help becomes a— well, a champion, who eventually enters the Tour de France. Unfortunately for him, during the race, he is kidnapped by a pair of evil-looking folk who have some vary nefarious plans for him. What follows is a somewhat improbable tale of Madame Souza and her rather obese dog following the crooks across the ocean to somewhere that looks suspiciously like the USA, when she meets up with the triplets of the title, three sisters who used to be a successful cabaret act but are now just insane old ladies. Together, they set off to rescue Champion from the terrible fate his kidnappers have planned.

Don't get me wrong, Triplets is an enjoyable enough film. It's just — I don't know, it really didn't engage me. I found it rather innovative and greatly enjoyed how different it is to a ‘regular’ animated film, but I couldn't relate to any of the characters, not even the kindly old granny, which I think is a potentially fatal problem for a movie which relies so much on the quirky personalities on display. It has plenty of amusing moments, but it has more, I think, which are supposed to be amusing but just aren't, which really grate. I for one found the second half (in the USA, or wherever it is) much less engaging than the first, and my attention began to wander more than once. The climactic chase sequence is, as far as I'm concerned, anything but exciting (though I gather it's supposed to be) and not really very funny (ditto). The humour has a bit of everything — sight gags, amusing situations, scatalogical humour, nearly everything except witty dialogue and puns (the film is almost totally dialogue-free) — but too much of it falls flat, especially the fart-type jokes which just aren't carried off well enough to be funny. Fart jokes are easy; this means that the bar has to be raised a little to make them noteworthy, something Triplets just doesn't do in this and other areas.

It's certainly an entertaining watch, it's just that I don't think being quirky and interesting and at times quite thoughtful completely makes up for the fact that there's a razor-thin plot which is often poorly executed, and the characters aren't quite engaging enough to make for a successful character-based movie.

mino gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 4 Jan 2005

"I'm still singing, and I don't even know the words" - a review by pearly

Sylvain Chomet's The Triplets of Belleville is quite fantastic. It's a French animated feature which contains almost no dialogue. Despite this, there is a distinct story: that of a man and his grandmother. From the early stages of the man's life, we see him become interested in cycling, and as he grows up, he trains and trains, and then competes in the Tour de France. It is whilst he is competing that he is kidnapped by some stereotypical bad guys, and taken over to America, with his devoted grandmother following hot on the trail to save the day.

The Triplets of Belleville sits slightly outside reality, in the same sort of space that its countryman Amélie (2001) did. The animation style is quirky, with the opening scenes containing a graininess deliberately layed over the top to indicates that what we are seeing is in the past.

The characters are distinctly portrayed, with every gesture and feature being exaggerated. The Triplets of Belleville has been criticised for this, as the French characters are very different to the American characters: the French are typically wiry, good looking types, whereas the Americans are overweight and, more often than not, baddies. Thus, the criticism is that the film is anti-American. I truly doubt that there was any terrorism-related hatred going on, so to this criticism, I say: whatever.

The style of animation, and the wonderful characterisations are what makes The Triplets of Belleville so wonderful. And the songs. And the fact that the film is so watchable despite being virtually dialogue free (something which I was dubious about to begin with).

The grandmother is the best character in the bunch; her tenacity is to be admired, and she is quite a funny old duck. It is interesting to watch the man grow and turn into the kind of machine that it is necessary to become to participate in something as gruelling as the Tour de France. And then there are the triplets, who the grandmother meets on her quest to free the man. They're a kooky family, chowing down on frogs and remembering old times when they were a singing sensation. Lastly, there's the man's dog, who, as the man gets fitter and musclier, becomes lazier and fatter, and whose only past-time is to bark at the trains that go past the man's bedroom window.

The Triplets of Belleville seems, from the outside, like the kind of film which could be really tedious and unwatchable. It could be hit or miss. But, once on the inside, laffing it up with the gang, it's clear that it's definitely hit. Bring on the sequel: The Quadruplets of Belleville! (I totally made that up).

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 17 Jun 2004

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 8.00
Lowest rating: 7 (by mino)
Highest rating: 9 (by pearly)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. Loved it ! Original, Quirky, off beat, however you want to describe it..well worth seeing twice.

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Robin on Tue 19 Jul 2005 12:48 #

  2. Does anyone know if there is any symbolism behind the shape the twin mobsters form when they walk side by side? or is it simply just supposed to be a larger form of an indavidual mobster?

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Annon on Fri 28 Jul 2006 14:42 #

  3. this movie sucks like shit
    fuck it!

    Rating given: 1

    A comment from King on Thu 18 Sep 2008 19:18 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 6.33 (3 ratings)

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