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
A caricatured Django Reinhardt playing guitar can be seen early in the black and white portion of the film. As in reality, the cartoon uses only two fingers to play, due to a burn suffered in 1928. Eventually, he brings his foot up and plays with his toes. The film's soundtrack sounds as though it was greatly influenced by Django's music (and he recorded a song called Belleville with Stéphane Grappelli). See more »
The odds on the chalkboard when cyclist #2 falls off his bike. See more »
Is that it, then? Is it over, do you think? What have you got to say to Grandma?
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After the credits have rolled we see the Pedalo rent guy waiting on the beach, looking out to sea and checking his wrist watch. See more »
If you love the style of the old Chuck Jones cartoons, or the Pink Panther, you'll definitely love this movie. If not, you may love it all the same. The animated characters are entertainingly and artistically grotesque, with understated emotions. They say it all with a barely noticeable shift of the eye or by fixing their glasses, or just by staring ahead. And yet understatement is the characters' chief strength, and for once we have an animated film that doesn't insult the viewer's intelligence. Call it retro if you like, but it is very effective.
Machines and houses can be just as grotesque as people in this movie: ships that look like they should rightly sink into the water like a knife, houses arched back subserviently under pressure from elevated railways, and a fat Statue of Liberty (just a hint as to how Americans are treated in this movie but it is done without any malice). Nothing makes sense when viewed individually, and yet together it meshes into a true masterpiece of form and content.
The storyline is very simple: a French bicycle racer is being kidnapped by the French Mafia to be used for illegal gambling, leaving his grandmother to try and rescue him. Along the way she teams up with the aging Triplets of Belleville, who, no longer at the heights of their power, still have a trick or two up their sleeve.
But if all you're after in a movie is a strong story, you might be disappointed. The accent here is on superb animation and soundtrack, which creates a feast for the eye and ear (speaking of ears, it will be a while before you'd be able to get that tune out of your head). This makes the movie watchable more than once you will only enjoy it more on subsequent viewings.
Bruno the dog also deserves a special mention: though grotesquely fat, it is probably the most true-to-life and well-developed depiction of a dog in any movie, filmed or animated. No cutesy stuff here, just real "dogginess." His dreams are especially interesting and add a surrealistic dimension to an already part-surrealistic production.
This movie should be a household name. Pity we're not more open to foreign films: most of us keep missing out on masterpieces like this.
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