Amidst a backdrop of fur-draped fat ladies and lecherous society men, The Triplets of Belleville drops its audience into a confounding, surreal and raucous jazz age adventure.
Triplets is a fairly straightforward tale; Grandmother Souza and Bruno, the family’s neurosis-ridden dog, paddle-boat across the ocean following the scent of her kidnapped grandson, Champion (taken captive while competing in the Tour-de-France). Upon reaching the thriving thoroughfare of Belleville, the trail to Champion leads the Grandmother to befriend the weird, washed-up singing Triplets of Belleville,
and battle the more sinister side of a French wine importer.
People are shot, weird mouse-like men are harassed and at the end, frog-popsicles are served; it’s all part of what goes on in Belleville.
There are a multitude of reasons why this film is set apart from any other prior, more familiar animation. Triplets is not a movie for small children. Its humor is a bit sophisticated and it displays nonchalance as opposed to the moralizing essential to most “cartoons.”
This work is all about impressing you with its ability to tell a story, which it does in its perfect blend of cuteness, creepiness, and absurdity; without words. There are very few spoken lines aside from a few samples of incidental dialogue. The tale is related by means of perfect glares and puffs from a whistle on Madame Souza’s behalf, barks from Bruno, squawks from the Triplets and astounding animation. Sylvain Chomet’s drawings recall the golden days of Disney- such as 101 Dalmations, The Jungle Book, and Aristocats.
Adding a twist, there are several impressive CGI scenes which integrate perfectly within the rest of the film; Bruno’s dog dreams are amazing visions in black and white that rival the best material to come out of Pixar.As a contender for two Academy Awards, Best Animated Feature and Best Song, there was some tough competition to be had against Finding Nemo and, well, anything from Lord of the Rings.
Triplets didn’t win any of its trophies, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t amazing or (ahem) more deserving. The French really know how to do cute without becoming ironic. The Triplets of Belleville is a beautiful film from every angle: its animation that doesn’t alienate the “Out of diapers” age group, and it’s genuinely funny. Every moment is wonderful to watch. For anyone a few years ago who may have thought Pixar’s all CGI philosophy would phase regular animation out, the Triplets are a refreshing reassurance of what the art form is fully capable of.
Marilyn Peck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.