The Triplets of Belleville (January 9/04)
While there's no denying that The Triplets of Belleville is a unique visual experience - a standard Disney cartoon this is not - the film's lack of plot and dialogue prevents me from giving it an outright positive review. It's never boring, really, but the movie does eventually become stagnant; though director Sylvain Chomet proves to be quite effective at establishing an utterly bizarre looking variation on our world, he's just not able to hold our interest all the way through.
Almost completely dialogue-free, The Triplets of Belleville tells the story of a young Parisian cyclist named Champion who's in training for the Tour de France. Along with his fiercely loyal grandmother and overweight dog, Champion spends his days devoted to little else aside from preparing for the world-renown race. On the day of the competition, Champion is abducted by two mysterious men in black (who are evidently conjoined twins, but no matter). His grandmother and dog - which just happens to be a bloodhound - begin searching for him, a quest that will take them from France to Quebec.
Though I'm right on the precipice in terms of giving The Triplets of Belleville a positive or negative review, when it's all said and done, the film just isn't compelling enough to warrant a such a long running time (around 80 minutes). This certainly would've made for a very effective short film, especially one around half an hour. And though it's essentially entertaining throughout, the absence of story elements eventually makes the movie more and more conducive to daydreaming. There's just something about the eclectic jazz score and surrealistic nature of the animation that makes it impossible not to fade off every few minutes.
Animation buffs will no doubt find plenty here worth savoring - from the admittedly gorgeous and intricate backdrops to the playfully over-the-top look of the characters - primarily because of Chomet's singularly unique vision. Had he included a story that was even half as compelling as the images on screen, The Triplets of Belleville would undoubtedly have been a worthy addition to the pantheon of great animated films.