Les Triplettes de Belleville/ dir. Sylvain Chomet/ 2003/ France
Les Triplettes de Belleville (English: Triplets of Belleville) is the story of Madame Souza and her son, Champion, who is an aspiring cyclist. During the Tour De France, Champion and 2 other cylclists are kidnapped by the French Mafia and brought to Belleville. Madame Souza heads to Belleville, where she meets the Triplets of Belleville, a trio of aged starlet singers, who helps Madame Souza rescue her son.
Okay, so from that synopsis this movie sounds pretty bland, but believe me, this movie had me transfixed to the screen. If you thought Wall-E was bold for having the first 40 minutes with no dialogue, Les Triplettes de Beville has NO dialogue! The whole story is told through pantomine, facial expressions, body language and music and it is a masterpiece to behold.
This film is a great study on how to create depth and emotion for characters. The first couple of moments where Madame Souza is trying to figure out how to make her grandson happy is truly touching, which sets up the latter half of the film when she tries to rescue him. There’s genuine emotion there, which is hard to accomplish WITH dialogue, but to do it WITHOUT dialogue is truly amazing.
I was also impressed with the subtle touches as well. The little wink at gentrification in terms of mass transit, the sarcastic depiction of both American and French culture (Belleville is fictional city that mashes both cultures together), and the Triplets themselves are quite the study in terms of character.
If you are used to the Disney style, or anime style, then you may have a hard time adjusting to Les Triplettes of Belleville. The characters are NOT cute! They are more abstract if anything else, but this adds to the depth of character. Mobsters have their own style, the Triplets have their own, Americans are fat, etc…
I do have one complaint. Things in the story get silly…really silly. It was planned this way, but with all this serious emotion Iget from the characters I would’ve like to see some more serious moments. But I guess it does keep things more light-hearted.
One last note: I was NOT prepared to see this movie. I remember popping the DVD in and being in shock for the first couple of minutes since there was no dialogue. I got used to it after a couple of minutes, but I was fiddling with the remote for first couple of minutes trying to adjust the language audio and subtitles. Also I keep calling this movie “The Triplets of Bellevue”