Well… after reading these glowing reviews, I got a little nervous about releasing this spotlight seeing as how I feel that the Triplets is a little… overrated.
Richly detailed and loaded with surreal touches, The Triplets of Belleville is an odd, delightful charmer.
Metascore: 91 out of 100
IMDB RATING: 7.7
Nominated for two Academy Awards…
Before anyone dashes to the comments to say that I have no tastes in movies and I should crucify my balls for saying anything bad about this movie, let me just say The Triplets of Belleville is not bad. It’s a decent animated movie with jaw dropping animation, good characters, a simple story, phenomenal use of sound, very catchy music, and some very surreal set pieces. BUT it fails on making any of this interesting. The Triplets of Belleville is an almost silent french animated film from the mind of Sylvain Chomet, the same man who directed such films as The Illusionist and The Tale of Despereaux. Chomet’s style is a very slow and surreal which is usually my type of movie but the Triplets weren’t exactly able to scratch that love of film for me.
The story is very simple a grandmother supposedly named Madame Soufa, but there is only one solitary time when then show that’s her name so I just call her granny, is taking care of her grandson with the odd nose proportion. The boy is very depressed that his parents died, in the usual Disney way, and now Granny is the only one taking care of him. Granny tries giving the boy an obese puppy named Bruno which cheers him up for a moment but he’s back to frowns-ville shortly after. Granny then helps the boy realize his life passion of becoming a cyclist and puts the boy through rigorous training.
Many years later the boy takes part in the Tour Du France with Bruno and Granny as his pit crew. Unfortunately French mobsters kidnap the boy and two other bikers to use them for gambling. So now Granny and Bruno travel to Belleville to find the boy and take him home. The odd thing about this movie is that even though it’s called “The Triplets of Belleville” we don’t see the triplets until 40 minutes into the movie. Overall the triplets aren’t at all the focus or entirely necessary to the story. The three sisters personalities blend together and just come off as three of the same character only differentiating in how they’re designed not in any form of character sense. The villain, in this case French Mario, is a not at all thought out villain. French Mario doesn’t have much reason to kidnap these three cyclists in the first place. Sure his plan is to use them like race horses to have members of the mafia gamble on them but couldn’t he have just went to a horse track and done the same thing, or he could use dogs, mice, rapping dogs and mice I don’t know. Have the members gamble on actual horses rather then going through the unnecessary and quite risky task of kidnapping three random bikers, carting them to Belleville, and then building a machine for the bikers to be forced to peddle unit, they die. Lucky for them NO ONE contacted the police about the OTHER TWO missing cyclists or he may have been screwed. Maybe that’s thinking a little too deeply into the guy when really all French Mario amounts to is just an evil figure for Granny to focus all her anger and blame to confront at the very end of the movie.
It’s-a-me, French Mario!
The heart of the story is with Granny and Bruno who are undoubtedly the best and most interesting of all the characters, Granny being the determined motherly grandmother and Bruno the loyal obese dog the two make an excellent duo. It’s a shame that the one these two are trying to save turns into the most boring character in the entire movie. The boy when he was young and pudgy had some potential at being an interesting character being a marathon cyclist and all. Especially seeing how the boy constantly trained to take part in the Tour du France was very insightful and imaginative but really after the boy gets kidnapped he isn’t a character any more. The boy is just an object. A trophy. Something that Granny and Bruno can find to lead us through the movie. Or to put it in simpler terms a damsel in distress. No character. Just a damsel.
This is the height of the boy’s caring for being kidnapped.
Now onto the main course of the movie the design and music of the movie. As you can tell from some of the images Triplets has a very unique style to it. These stylistic choices give the movie a very unique feel to it and create the proper tone for the story. That being the lost an unfamiliar feeling when Granny and Bruno get lost in the big unfamiliar city of Belleville. The art style depicts Belleville as very big and chaotic filled with very fat characters. The art style follows the basic pattern of characters being tall and skinny; like the three triplets, the mafia henchmen and especially all the bikers or short and round; like Granny and Bruno. The design of the movie alone will definitely sell most animation nuts on watching it and the sound design is just icing on top. The song which this movie was nominated for best original song “Belleville Rendez-Vous” is catchy even though it’s in a completely different language from our own. Sounds are very crisp and clear matching perfectly with the onscreen actions from the disgusting cracking of a spine, to the almost non-human gasping of the two other bikers the sound raises the atmosphere of the movie to a glorious high.
The Bruno Dream segments of the movie are the most triply and interesting.
But great animation and sound design can’t help from the movie’s main problem. The problem that none of the characters grows in ANY fashion throughout the story. When learning to become a writer we learn a few things on how to make the main character. That the main character needs to be driven by him/her which in this movie it does Granny drives the plot to rescue her grandson and that the main character changes by the end of the movie. Did Granny at all change? Did anyone in this movie change? The Triplets? The Mobsters? Bruno? No. Their characters were consistent all the way through. Speaking of change what’s the moral of this movie? What do we learn? Following your dream gets yah kidnapped by French Mobsters who use you as a race horse? Giving your grandson a dream will get him kidnapped and then you and your fat dog sidekick will have to befriend three bums to save him? The movie ends with the problem being solved but the movie fails to make the action at all moving or powerful. During the climax, I was bored and checking my watch to see how long I had until I could watch a less boring movie and as a general rule your audience shouldn’t feel like that. The beginning of The Triplets of Belleville was fantastic however. The characterization through action rather then voice was brilliant but by then end it goes horribly wrong. The Triplets of Belleville all and all is decent overall. The animation, sound, and concept is fantastic and get a thumbs up but on a storytelling level the movie gets a big fat thumbs down.
Illustrations by Jordan Tucker – Deviant Art
Written by: Taylor “Whyboy” Wyatt
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