When her grandson is kidnapped during the Tour de France, Madame Souza and her beloved pooch Bruno team up with the Belleville Sisters--an aged song-and-dance team from the days of Fred Astaire--to rescue him.
Paul is a sweet man-child, raised - and smothered - by his two eccentric aunts in Paris since the death of his parents when he was a toddler. Now thirty-three, he still does not speak. (He ... See full summary »
Anne Le Ny,
Madame Souza, an elderly woman, instills in her grandson Champion (for who she acts as his guardian) a love of cycling. As a young man, he does become a dedicated road racer with his grandmother as his trainer. During a mountainous leg of the Tour de France in which Champion is racing, he goes missing. Evidence points to him being kidnapped. Indeed, he and two of his competitors were kidnapped, the kidnappers who want to use the threesome's unique skills for nefarious purposes. With Champion's overweight and faithful pet dog Bruno at her side, Madame Souza goes looking for Champion. Their trek takes them overseas to the town of Belleville. Without any money, Madame Souza and Bruno are befriended and taken in by three eccentric elderly women, who were once the renowned jazz singing group The Triplets of Belleville. The triplets help Madame Souza and Bruno try to locate and rescue Champion. Written by
'The Triplets of Belleville' is a strange, largely wordless animated feature by French filmmaker Sylvain Chomet. It tells the story of a sad and lonely young boy whose sweet and doting grandmother buys him a bicycle in the hopes that it will bring a sense of purpose to his life. It does, for as the years pass, the lad grows to become a competitive cyclist, thanks in large part to the tender encouragement and ministrations of this adoring, and, one must say, adorable woman. While he's taking part in the Tour de France, some Mafia henchmen kidnap the boy so they can use him for a bizarre and deadly gambling scheme. The majority of the film recounts the attempts by his intrepid grandmother and his unflaggingly loyal dog to track the youngster down and rescue him. Aiding them in this endeavor are the Triplets of Belleville, a trio of aging nightclub singers with some bizarrely French eating habits whom they encounter on their way.
Because the film employs almost no dialogue or voice-over narration, it is left mainly to the visuals to convey the storyline. For this purpose, Chomet relies almost exclusively on facial expressions and body language to spell out the major plot points. The film's unique look arises from its gross distortion of shape, line and form, particularly in regards to the human figures. The thin characters are spindly and angular almost to grotesqueness, while those who are overweight run to a corpulence of awe-inspiring proportions. And the Mafia figures bring new meaning to the term 'broad-shouldered.' But it isn't just the humans. The thin, needle-like skyscrapers rise to impossible heights, while an ocean liner's hull is stretched vertically to such an extent that we expect the ship to capsize from its preposterously un-seaworthy design at any moment.
The film is filled with moments of great imagination, as when it visualizes the black-and-white dreams of an aging dog, or when it turns the tables and shows us three cartoon characters laughing it up while watching some 'live action' characters on TV indulging in inane slapstick madness.
Like all fine animated films, 'The Triplets of Belleville' creates its own unique world, filled with images and sights we've never quite seen before. By eliminating speech as a means of storytelling, the filmmaker heightens the surrealistic tone of what is being shown on screen.
'The Triplets of Bellville' isn't a great film, but its uniqueness of vision and form makes it one well worth watching.
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