Tuesday Morning Review:
The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
Les triplettes de Belleville (original title)
PG-13 80 min
This is a review of The Triplets of Belleville but we also have to look at how I got to see it which is because of The Illusionist.
I love animation. Make no mistake about it I am from the generation that was glued to the TV on Saturday mornings to view the orgy of cartoons that were aired. I like to think that even back then I could tell good from bad animation. At least I know that the Warner Brothers Cartoons including the Classic Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner and the Daffy Duck series were among my favorites and could get me to wet my pants with laughter. Still can.
The Illusionist (French: L’Illusionniste) is a 2010 animated comedic drama film directed by Sylvain Chomet that I saw first. It is a bittersweet love story of boy never gets girl. It is a gorgeous, heartfelt and SAD film. Not the feel-good movie of all time. Both of these films are undeniably and completely French, in the vivid depictions of the Country and the language, both spoken and seen in newspapers, TV programs and signs. It’s immaterial as the story need not be spoken for understanding. I liked The Illusionist a lot. But the trailer for The Triplets of Belleville really set the hook deep.
First of all that song! It’s so completely infectious that I find my toe tapping and I am humming it as I write this. “Belleville Rendez-Vous” was nominated for an Oscar. Sylvain Chomet wrote and produced the movie and the lyrics for the song.
The trailer is so astoundingly good that you will want to see it more than once. The DVD version also includes a three-minute short built around Rendez-vous and a visit to a soon-bewildered psychiatrist. It’s also astonishing.
But as to the film itself: The deliberate retro look of the animation is somehow reassuring, like a welcome friend come to visit after a long absence. It’s clear from watching the ancillary extras that the crew worked extra hard to achieve this effect, so hard that it does not seem to be an effect at all. It all blends seamlessly.
The main characters are Madame Souza, an elderly woman raising her young grandson, Champion and a hopelessly fat dog named Bruno. The plot revolves around Champion, a bicycle race, the mafia and the frog eating triplets.
It’s almost like taking a hallucinogen, watching this movie. It’s so far out that it’s back in again. There is no way to describe how utterly weird and wonderful this whole feature is. As a small suggestion, do NOT take any drugs prior to viewing. You will not need them.
Best things? The Dog. The Dog is brilliant. He is just a dog, fat stupid and little bewildered. Perfect. The people. Chomet captures all these incredible creatures (a repairman who is a mouse but not a mouse) and builds them into such real looking people that it is stunning.
The attention to detail in the backgrounds is another treat. A brief walk by a loathsome toilet in the Triplets apartment house is SO disgusting but charmingly real all the same. You can almost smell it!
And the Visit to the Psychiatrist:
The Rant D’Jour discloses more about me than I would choose.
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