|The Triplets of Belleville|
French release poster
|Directed by||Sylvain Chomet|
|Produced by||Didier Brunner|
|Written by||Sylvain Chomet|
|Music by||Benoît Charest|
|Edited by||Dominique Brune|
Chantal Colibert Brunner
|Distributed by||Diaphana Films (France)|
Tartan Films (UK)
|Box office||$14.8 million|
The Triplets of Belleville (French: Les Triplettes de Belleville) is a 2003 animated comedy film written and directed by Sylvain Chomet. It was released as Belleville Rendez-vous in the United Kingdom. The film is Chomet's first feature film and was an international co-production among companies in France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Canada.
The film features the voices of Michèle Caucheteux, Jean-Claude Donda, Michel Robin, and Monica Viegas. There is little dialogue; much of the narrative is conveyed through song and pantomime. It tells the story of Madame Souza, an elderly woman who goes on a quest to rescue her grandson Champion, a Tour de France cyclist, who has been kidnapped by the French mafia for gambling purposes and taken to the city of Belleville (an amalgam of New York City, Montreal and Quebec City). She is accompanied by Champion's loyal but obese hound, Bruno, and joined by the Triplets of Belleville, music hall singers from the 1930s, whom she meets in the city.
The film was highly praised by audiences and critics for its unique style of animation. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards—Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song for "Belleville Rendez-vous". It was also screened out of competition (hors concours) at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.
The film begins with a flashback showing The Triplets of Belleville: a trio of singers performing on stage in the early 1900s (dancing alongside other celebrities including Josephine Baker and Django Reinhardt).
The story focuses on Madame Souza, an ageless woman raising her young charge, assumed to be a son or grandson, Champion. Souza notices his listlessness that is attributed to hints of his being orphaned. She buys him a piano and plays it badly. When this fails to inspire, she buys him Bruno, a dog. After a time he becomes melancholic once more. She discovers Champion's keen interest in road bicycle racing (a photo on his wall shows his deceased parents with a cycle), she buys him a tricycle. We see them years later, as Champion the cyclist and Souza, his coach.
Souza and Bruno follow the men, but lose their trail. Lost and with no way to find Champion, Souza has a chance encounter with the renowned Belleville triplets, music hall singers from the 1930s, now elderly women turned improvisational musicians. The sisters take Souza to their home and she soon becomes a part of their group. We then see the wine mafia boss using the kidnapped cyclists as horses in a stationary cycling machine. They are raced in a simulated Tour de France race for gambling.
At a fancy restaurant, the Triplets and Souza perform a jam session using newspaper, refrigerator, vacuum cleaner and bicycle wheel as instruments. The wine mafia boss happens to be in the restaurant and, with the help of Bruno, Souza realizes he has Champion. She tails one of the minions and discovers the scheme. That night, mob bosses and henchmen arrive at the hideout to bet on the riders (one of whom falls off his bicycle from exhaustion, at which point the bookmaker shoots him as one would an injured horse). Madame Souza, Bruno and the Triplets then infiltrate the hideout, sabotage the contraption, free it and turn it into a pedal-powered vehicle on which they all escape. The mob henchmen pursue them, but are all overcome. The film ends with the motley group riding out of Belleville, and a flashforward to an elderly Champion reflecting on the adventure, as told to him by the then-deceased Souza.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 94% of 141 surveyed critics gave it a positive review, and the average rating was 8.2/10; the consensus reads: "Richly detailed and loaded with surreal touches, The Triplets of Belleville is an odd, delightful charmer." Metacritic, which assigns a normalized score, rated it 91/100 based on 35 reviews.
The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: for Best Animated Feature, making it the first PG-13 animated film to be nominated in that category; and for Best Original Song (Benoît Charest and Sylvain Chomet for the song "Belleville Rendez-vous", sung by Matthieu Chedid in the original version). The film lost the Best Animated Feature award to Finding Nemo. It also has won the César for Best Film Music, and as a co-production with Canada it won the Genie Award for Best Motion Picture and the BBC Four World Cinema Award in 2004.