Movie Poster
The Triplets of Belleville
Sylvian Chomet
Jean-Claude Donda, Michel Robin, Monica Vegas, Michele Caucheteaux
78 min.


This is one of the few genuinely interesting pieces of animation I have seen in a long time. This is not a perfect movie, but there is plenty to recommend about it. What little plot there is serves solely as an excuse for the inventive animation and the occasional joke. Some of these are reasonably funny. The music, when it turns up, is catchy (some sounding like a pop version of Nurse With Wound). The animation style is overtly charicaturistic: all the (implied) Americans are obese, all the French are useless. The persistent boy scout is particularly amusing. Clearly this was animated by a guy who grew up drawing people to amuse himself. The best character is the dog. He's the most fully drawn, the most emotionally involving, and has the best jokes. He's also the only one with an inner life (that we see), he is given a series of dog-dream-sequences which are convincing and believable.

The movie is not without its problems, though. When the credits roll at the end, the film's 78 minute runtime is profoundly apparent. This movie, when it ends, seems like it was the same length as Inspector Gadget. However, many of the segments in the second half of the movie feel as long as (when you reach the end) the whole film seemed. But these are minor things. The film is worth seeing because of the dog character.

The Triplets of Belleville shows with a Walt Disney/Salvador Dali collaborative short Destino. This is, I suppose, interesting mostly just in concept (can you imagine Michael Eisner working with a contemporary equivalent to Dali? A Robert Malthorpe/Pixar film adaptation of Piss Christ? I'd buy a ticket), but disappointing in execution. I had been led to believe that this film was half completed by Dali and Disney and current animators had simply finished it. It seems, however, that the film was, at best, storyboarded by D&D, and completely animated by current DisneyCorp employees. It feels more like a Fantasia-2000-team homage to Dali. Anyway, it's short, and reasonably interesting.

The way I see it, the closest race in the Oscars is for Best Animated Feature: Finding Nemo and The Triplets of Belleville are two of the best reviewed movies of the year. Destino is up for Best Animated Short, I'm not sure anybody cares who wins that one.

Pat Jackson