review for The Triplets of Belleville on AllMovie

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
by Andrea LeVasseur review

The opening sequence of the The Triplets of Belleville is one of those crude, early black-and-white cartoons that might have played before the feature in a traditional movie palace. It not only sets the surreal tone for the film, it also introduces the wonderfully infectious title song. Inspired by the music of Django Reinhardt, the jazz score (composed by Benoît Charest) is an important element because writer/director Sylvain Chomet has wisely chosen to refrain from using dialogue. Traversing through a non-standard adventure, the endearing main characters communicate through nonverbal behavior. Bruno is a loyal hound dog who barks at trains and occasionally drifts off into bizarre dream sequences. Matronly Madame Souza might walk with a limp, but she's a tough coach and a stickler for precision. Together, the humble team hobbles toward the big city of Belleville in order to rescue their beloved Champion. The city is an ink-washed masterpiece of strange proportions. Huge American tourists line the streets, while the villains are represented by symmetrical blocks of homogenous mobsters. The heroes quickly befriend a trio of elderly experimental musicians who live near a swamp and dine exclusively on frogs. If this all sounds too absurd, remember that the tale is told from the tender perspective of an old lady and her dog. The warm, nostalgic style borrows from the comedy of Jacques Tati and the design of '50s animation. The adventure moves at a slow, gentle pace leading up to a daring car chase and rescue sequence. Accept the ridiculous premise, because the simple joys are completely worth the suspension of disbelief.