The Triplets of Belleville Sylvain Chomet

The Triplets of BellevilleSylvain Chomet
It's impossible to watch the opening five minutes of The Triplets of Belleville and not realise that you have gained entry to a world beyond conventional imagining. With boogie-woogie music jumping, director Sylvain Chomet cobbles together an eclectic pastiche of images and sounds — Django Reinhardt playing guitar with his toes, Fred Astaire devoured by his tap shoes, Josephine Baker performing a hootie-coochie before being rushed by her male audience. And all of this in the first five minutes! The film starts outside of Paris just after WWII, where sad, orphaned Champion lives with his club-footed, lazy-eyed Grandmother, Madame Souza, who tries everything she can to lift the fog of melancholy that swirls around her grandson. After playing him piano, badly, and purchasing him a dog, Bruno, she finds a notebook filled with images of the Tour de France. Champion is presented with his own tricycle and spins in merry circles in the courtyard. When he finally enters the race, ten years later, disaster strikes: he is kidnapped by Mafiosi who whisk him off to Belleville, with Grandma Souza quickly on his heels. Rendered in ochres, bronzes and shadowy golds, the film moves with a kind of dream logic (in fact, we are treated to a couple of actual dog dreamscapes) but it is done with such a deft hand and the surreal elements come off with such gentleness that it is akin to watching a poem unfold. And like a poem, this is an incredibly personal work. In one of the disc's featurettes, Chomet reveals how friends and family served as the inspiration for several characters. He also pays tribute to his many influences — classic Disney, early animation pioneers like Winsor McCay and, of course, Jacques Tati, whose "all action, no talk films" are the guiding spirits of this piece. And yet Chomet's first film — a masterpiece right out of the gate — doesn't really look, or sound, like anything else. Despite having been worked on by a veritable army of technicians, the movie has a distinctiveness of style and a vision of its world that is unparalleled. This one will be a pleasure to watch over and over and over again. How often can you say that and mean it? Plus: music video, trailer, more. (Alliance Atlantis)