The Triplets of Belleville
Details: (PG), 81 mins, France, English
Synopsis: An orphaned boy, Champion, is raised by his grandmother, Madame Souza. Her gift of a tricycle starts a craze for cycle racing that becomes the cornerstone of their life together. After years of relentless training, Champion makes it to the Tour de France but mysteriously kidnapped by a pair of sinister crooks.Supported by her faithful dog Bruno, Madame Souza sets off to rescue her beloved Champion. An epic adventure leads them across the Atlantic to a vast seaport metropolis named Belleville, headquarters of the notorious French Mafia. Lost and confused in the threatening darkness of the great city, Madame Souza and Bruno encounter the Belleville Triplets. In their youth, a glamorous close-harmony act, these three batty old ladies are now a bizarre jazz combo. Madame Souza joins the band. At their very first gig, she discovers Champion is being held captive by the Mafia Godfather himself! All hell breaks loose, and the chase is on!
Old Madame Souza lives in a tall, dilapidated building near the railway line with her train-hating dog, Bruno. She adopts Champion, her grandson. When she discovers Champion is obsessed with cycling, she buys him a bike. Years pass, and the railway line now crosses a viaduct close to the house, infuriating Bruno even more. Champion has entered the Tour de France, and Madame Souza and Bruno form his support team; when he's kidnapped by mafia types and transported across the Atlantic to the city of Belleville, Madame Souza and Bruno rent a pedal-boat and follow them to the New World.This dazzlingly original animated feature from France is the work of comic-book artist turned filmmaker Sylvain Chomet. Steeped in nostalgia, and filled with wonderfully bizarre characters, the film is more than just an exercise in style; it's a beautifully handled comparison between French and North American values. Belleville - which seems to combine New York and Montreal - is inhabited by overweight capitalists - even the Statue of Liberty is fat - but the Triplets, a veteran vaudeville team, show their origins by consuming nothing but frogs! The animation, from the deliberately scratchy black and white pastiche of early 30s Disney and Max Fleischer that begins the film, is superb. This is an animated film for adults, and though the humour is a trifle melancholy, the influences, including Jacques Tati himself, provide plenty of laughs and delights.
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