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The Triplets of Belleville (Review)

The artistry of animation overcomes pacing.

by Ruby Yang

Every so often, you’ll come across a movie that stands out. It’s different. Perhaps a bit strange. But there’s just something enticing about it—you’re captivated by it, yet you can’t find the words to describe it. This is exactly how I felt upon viewing The Triplets of Belleville. On the surface, the movie (which is animated) is a work of art. From its unique art style to the accompanying music and lack of dialogue, the movie feels as if you’re watching a storybook come to life.  As for the plot, well that’s where it gets a bit tricky to explain. In short, the plot of the movie is simple.The Triplets of Belleville follows the misadventure of Madame Souza, an elderly woman who, with her lovable fat dog, Bruno, and the help of the singing Belleville triplets, takes on the French mafia in order to rescue her kidnapped grandson. But because of the style of art, the movie is so much more than just a tale of a grandma saving her grandson. Instead, the film as a whole is an experience—it’s an adventure within an adventure, so to speak.

The Triplets of Belleville
Directed by Sylvain Chomet
Cast Michèle Caucheteux, Jean-Claude Donda, Michel Robin
Release Date 26 November 2003
Ruby's Grade: A-

But don’t expect a flashy, action-packed adventure that is typical in most animated films. The film is rather slow paced, especially since there is little to no dialogue. At times it may feel like nothing of importance is happening, but the artistry overcomes any missing plot elements. For example, a good chunk of the movie features the dreams of Bruno the dog, which does little to move the story forward; however, it’s interesting to try and analyze the meaning—why are we seeing a dog’s dream? What do the dreams mean? Does it symbolize something?

Given the fact that this movie is focused on visuals, there’s bound to be meaning behind what we see. However, once Madame Souza meets the triplets of Belleville, that’s when things start picking up. With Madame Souza getting closer to finding her grandson, and with the over-the-top eccentricity of the triplets, you’ll find yourself trying to guess what is going to happen next. But, of course, with the sisters being so peculiar, you just never know. All the same, you’ll find yourself rooting for Madame Souza and cheering the Belleville triplets on. They’re an odd bunch, and certainly all the more lovable for it. Overall, The Triplets of Belleville is an enjoyable film that mixes story with art creating a visual journey that is whimsically entertaining.

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