Les Triplettes de Belleville

Poster for Les Triplettes de Belleville

Spring 2004 Edge series

Sunday, May 9, 2004 at 7:00pm

Empire Theatres, New Minas, NS

Directed by


Rated PG · 1h 20m
Canada / France
English, French, and Portuguese

Les Triplettes De Belleville, Sylvain Chomet’s animated feature debut which screened at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival, delights with bizarre humour and staggering attention to visual and aural detail. Set in a heightened, post-war world of bulbous pedestrians, eerie, rubbery frogs and the haunting whine of a hurtling commuter train, Les Triplettes De Belleville casts an irresistible spell on the senses of those young and old. Madame Souza lives with Champion, her melancholy grandson, on a hill outside the crush of Paris. One day, she answers his dreams by giving him a tricycle; years later, the city has sprouted up around the house and the pudgy little tricycler has become a lean, serene cycling fiend on two wheels. When Champion is kidnapped during the Tour de France by menacing, black-suited strangers, Grandma and faithful hound Bruno must track them across the sea to glistening, towering Belleville – a sort of Gallic hybrid of New York City and Montréal. While her grandson suffers, Madame Souza falls in with an eccentric trio of thirties-era music hall singers, the glorious Belleville Triplets (who once played with Fred Astaire), and enlists their help. Les Triplettes De Belleville endlessly fascinates with its meticulously detailed hand-drawn images and a catchy score by Benoît Charest, inspired in part by the music of jazz legend Django Reinhardt. The post-war era is evoked through a warm palette of antiqued browns and beiges; in tone and texture it is at times reminiscent of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Delicatessen. Cinema and pop culture references create nostalgic ambience rather than in-jokes. Chomet bases his style on mime and character acting – Champion is the picture of strangely angelic concentration; Madame Souza a touching, feisty powerhouse with one short leg and a whistle to keep the world in line; the massive, square-shouldered villains resemble anvils. Les Triplettes De Belleville is a truly captivating world unto itself.

“An animated feature of appalling originality and scary charm.” – Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times

“A tour de force of ink-washed, crosshatched mischief and unlikely sublimity.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“It’s nasty but droll, cheerfully grotesque, full of non sequiturs as well as deadpan repetitions, never cute and the opposite of precious.” – J. Hoberman, Village Voice

“Feels simultaneously cutting-edge and a new classic of the cartoon genre.” – Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post

“A truly out-there piece of comic animation, the most outlandishly visual film of the year, this 80-minute French treat takes us into a world that can barely be described, a world unlike any we’ve seen before.” – Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

“Impossible to describe, impossible to forget.” – C. W. Nevius, The San Francisco Chronicle