Don’t worry, you don’t need to read subtitles for The Triplets of Belleville, which may be French but is an experience that goes beyond language. You could probably count the lines on dialogue on one hand. This masterpiece of animation is an explosion of pantomime and musical comedy, showing that sometimes words get in the way of telling a good story.
The movie opens with the three titular sisters, performing in their heyday as a 1930s singing group, all suitably animated in the classic cartoon styles of the period. But the story is really about Madame Souza, a diminutive but headstrong lady who raises her grandson Champion after the death of his parents. In her attempts to connect with the boy, she buys several gifts: a dog called Bruno and a small toy train set. But Champion only opens up when he is given a bicycle and this becomes his lifelong obsession.
The movie jumps forward to where an adult Champion is being trained by his grandmother to compete as a professional cyclist. But during the race Champion is kidnapped by the Mafia, so Madame Souza and Bruno go after them. After reaching Belleville, a cheeky parody of New York and the American lifestyle, she encounters the triplets who eventually join her quest to save her grandson.
The Triplets of Belleville is that kind of movie everyone should watch once. It is beautifully hand-animated with a wild and vivid world rising from the gorgeous imaginations of the French and Belgian comic traditions. The characters themselves are a lot of fun and while this isn’t a musical, music plays a big and vibrant roles in everything. The kicker, though is that you don’t need to understand the language. There is hardly any dialogue and the story is toled through the pantomime actions of the characters.
The Triplets of Belleville sounds arty, but that is not the case. A toddler could watch this movie and enjoy it.
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Last Updated: December 8, 2014