Belleville Rendez-Vous aka The Triplets Of Belleville (2003) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Starring (voices of): Jean-Claude Donda, Michel Robin, Monica Viegas
Director: Sylvain Chomet

The talented animator Sylvain Chomet, writer/director of BELLEVILLE RENDEZ-VOUS, releases his first feature-length animation and with five years in the making this is one gem of a film not to be missed. A virtually silent animation the story unfolds slowly about a young boy, Champion, very much alone apart from his grandmother Madame Souza and dog Bruno. That is until he discovers cycling – his one true passion. With an obsession and determination matched only by his grandmother, who’s his mentor and trainer, he trains meticulously over the years to realise his sole ambition of competing in the Tour De France championship race.

However while competing in the Tour de France, Champion is kidnapped from under his grandmother and Bruno’s noses along with two other competitors by some mysterious men in black suits a.k.a. the French mafia. The abductors transport Champion and his fellow cyclists to a large metropolis called Belleville where they are imprisoned and put to work cycling ‘nowhere’ against each other in an illegal mafia gambling den.

With the same zest and determination that helped Champion become a top cyclist, Madame Souza and the ever-faithful Bruno track Champion to Belleville where by chance she meets the once famous Triplets of Belleville, three eccentric female 1930’s music-hall stars, who come to her aid and become embroiled in Madame Souza’s quest to rescue her grandson and together they take on the mafia.

The painstaking attention to detail in this animation is astounding and despite the limited dialogue the story is completely understandable (even by my young 6 year old son) and interspersed throughout with some absolutely hilarious, brilliant and truly inspirational pieces that had both of us rolling up with laughter. The action and pace hot up in BELLEVILLE RENDEZ-VOUS as the film progresses with some edge-of-the-seat scenes such as when the mafia chase after the escaping Champion and his rescue team (Madame Souza, the Belleville Triplets et al) in a stream of matching Citroen 2CVs blasting away furiously. Not only that but the soundtrack is equally inspirational and so catchy it has you tapping away to the beat. Benoît Charest’s musical compositions and arrangements capture the feel of this movie brilliantly. Also if you sit through the credits there’s one last poignant scene at the very end of the movie.

6 out of 6 stars