The Triplets of Belleville

After reading Tanya’s review, I finally went to see Sylvain Chomet’s animated feature, The Triplets of Belleville (IMDB), last night, and like Tanya, I completely enjoyed the film’s visual and musical artistry. The opening sequence, featured in theatrical previews, riffs on the early-’30s Fleischer Brothers Talkertoons, with parodies of Josephine Baker, Fred Astaire, and Django Reinhardt. The stars of the show are, of course, the eponymous triplets, who perform a scat-style song (one I’d like to see win the Oscar). The “scratches” on the film add to the nostalgic feel, leaving me feeling completely immersed in this world, but as the camera pans back, we see the scan lines of a television set and are quickly transplanted into a 1960s-era France, in the lonely, dilapidated house of Madame Souza and her orphaned grandson, Champion.

The film’s ability to convey the characters’ personalities and emotions with minimal dialogue is impressive, but to try to convey much information about the plot would, I believe, ruin the experiences for others. J. Hoberman’s Village Voice review generally captures the spirit of the film without giving away too much. In short, I completely enjoyed the film’s nostalgic tone (which I read as nostalgia not for the past itself as much as for a certain style of animation), its use of rich earth tones to convey this world, and the visual shorthand used to comment on characters and situations, including the waiter with no backbone (he literally bends over backwards), the square-shouldered mob guys who always walk in pairs, and Champion’s skinny-legged, chubby dog, Bruno. The film is an absolute treat. See it on the big screen if you can.

Note: Also check out Elbert Ventura’s Pop Matters review.

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