Canada, Sylvain Chomet (2003)
It’s only the second day of 2004—is it too soon to say that I’ve seen the best movie of the year? Well, I guess technically it would be the best film of 2003, but I saw it this year, so we’ll call it that.
The Triplets Of Belleville is wild, crazy, touching, funny, incredibly original, beautiful and just plain amazing. Have I built it up enough?
In a word—go. I mean, GO!
The animation is stunning and constantly amazing. The story is odd, the characters even odder, and it’s filled with rich details. I had so much fun watching this film. I caught myself smiling on more than one occasion, and not just because it’s humorous. The visuals are creative and full of that good old “wow factor.” I would bet money that you’ve never seen a film like this one.
Everyone at Disney should sit up and take notice of this first feature film by French director Sylvain Chomet. The beginning of the film resembles an early Fleischer cartoon, but the influences are more Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati than anything, and the overall look is very French. The story concerns a grandmother who travels across the ocean to rescue her grandson, a cyclist in the Tour de France, who’s been kidnapped by the French mafia. The triplets of the title are a singing group from the ‘30s, who now live under the bridge in Belleville, a sort of bizarre amalgam of Montreal and NYC. In between performances, using household items as instruments, these three odd sisters help granny and her dog Bruno rescue the cyclist.
In the last year or so, I’ve realized that for a movie to transcend to a great film experience for me it has to have an element of surprise—the more unexpected and unpredictable the story, the better. It’s not true of every movie, but usually, when it does, I’m hooked. I love it when a movie can take me on a wild ride, and I have no idea where it’s going or how it’s going to end. Of course, the story has to work—it has to make sense and be true to the characters. Triplets packs this kind of surprise from start to finish.
I should mention that as much fun as this film is to watch, it is to listen. There’s no dialog in the film. The score is in the style of jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and the title song, sung by the triplets, is catchier than you’ll hope to find in any other soundtrack.
Here’s the Gist: If you see one out-of-the-ordinary film this year, let it be this one. You won’t regret it. [*****]