Sunday, February 22, 2004

I went on a Belleville Rendez-vous!

All I can say is wow.
The Triplets of Belleville is one of the most fiercely imaginitive, wonderfully executed movies I've seen in a long time.

Sure, it's in French. No, they're aren't any subtitles. Guess what? You don't need 'em. There's so little dialogue, it doesn't matter, anyway.
The story is simple. A grandmother can't connect with her grandson after the implied death of his parents. She finally finds that he loves bicycling and begins a lifelong obsession with the sport.
When next we see them, the boy is a grown man training for the Tour de France. Grandma helps train him, using all the meager tools at her disposal to help mold him into a Champion.

During the race, Champion gets kidnapped by mobsters and Grandma gives chase. She follows them halfway across the planet to Belleville, a huge metropolis, where Champion and other kidnapped racers are forced to compete for mob bosses.

Thing is, I've just described the entire plot of the movie to you, and you still have no idea what you're in for. The movie is unique and funny and beautiful. Nothing is designed quite how you'd expect it to look, and the weirdness of the design and story plays into the way things pan out. All the mobster henchmen are identical, square-shouldered goons. Grandma has one huge clubfoot. Champion's dog barks at every train that passes by because of a childhood encounter with a model train.
The titular Triplets are a faded cabaret act from a bygone era who now live in a tenement and hunt frogs with hand grenades. None of it makes sense...but in doing so, it all makes sense.
I know this sounds like awful gobbledygook, but you have to SEE this movie to understand it. It defies description.

The film has a bizarre rhythm to it, sometimes articulated by the metronone of a whistle or the percussive songs of the Triplets. It moves the story forward and makes the 78 minute move seem to go by in 20. Most animated films use music as a substitute for the story. This one uses music as a substitute for dialogue.
I feel bad that Triplets of Belleville is in limited release. Not only do more people need to see it, so that they can see exactly what's wrong with the House of Mouse, but the Academy voters need to know that this was definitely the best animated movie of last year. Well, if Finding Nemo wins, I won't feel TOO sad...

Official Site
American Site

No comments: