Written and directed by Sylvain Chomet, The Triplets Of Belleville doesn't have any names familiar to me in the vocal cast, doesn't have a high concept at its heart, and doesn't have built-in fanbase that it's aimed at. What it does have is inventiveness, humour and a lot of heart.
The story is all about Madame Souza and her grandson, Champion. From a very early age, Champion has loved riding his bike. Over the years, he keeps cycling and cycling, supported and trained by his grandmother. He's aiming for one thing, of course, and that is a shot in the Tour de France. Unfortunately, once competing in the race, Champion is kidnapped, along with some other cyclists, by some crooks who want to use them in a scheme that will make them a lot of money. Despite the odds against her, Madame Souza heads off in pursuit of the crooks, with her loyal dog, Bruno, by her side. She is determined to save her son, and soon finds some unlikely allies in the shape of the three singing ladies also known as the Triplets Of Belleville.
The Triplets Of Belleville is a beautiful piece of work, full of gorgeous details throughout and lots of fun stylistic choices (such as the broad-shouldered criminal henchmen, or the overdeveloped muscles that Champion uses when pedalling on his bike). A lot of the characters are caricatures, but they're either treated in an affectionate way or used perfectly in moments of comedy, showing just how much thought has gone into each design choice.
Although the movie is French through and through, with affection for the country shining through just as the affection for Edinburgh was front and centre in Chomet's The Illusionist, most of the story is told visually. There are noises, and a few lines of dialogue, and a wonderful score (by Benoit Charest), but you could watch the film with the sound off and still understand most of it. I wouldn't recommend that, of course, as you'd miss out on some gags and great moments, but it's possible.
Old ladies rarely get such prominent leading roles, especially in stories revolving around kidnapping and dangerous criminals, but thank goodness that Chomet created Madame Souza and the Triplets Of Belleville. The characters allow him to lace every scene with humour and quirkiness, completely twisting any "seen it all before" moments into something witty and original.
Sylvain Chomet is a great talent, and The Triplets Of Belleville remains his best film. I'd encourage all animation fans to check it out whenever the chance arises.
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The UK version can be bought here - http://www.amazon.co.uk/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395945647&sr=1-3&keywords=movie+guide
And American folks can buy it here - http://www.amazon.com/TJs-Ramshackle-Movie-Guide-Reviews-ebook/dp/B00J9PLT6Q/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395945752&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=TJs+ramshackle+mov
As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.