The Triplets of Bellville is a feature length cartoon that masquerades as an art film. One almost hates to call it a cartoon because of fact that there is an actual maturely developed story line. Triplets opens by introducing the main characters, Champion and his Grandmother, whom live in a cottage presumably in the countryside of France.
Champion is a melancholy young lad, who seems to find no joy in anything that would typically amuse someone of his youthful status. Grandma senses Champion's lack of happiness and does her best to find that which is lacking in his life but to no avail. One day when cleaning Champion's room, Grandma finds his secret journal which is loaded with pictures of bicycles, with notes scrawled barely legibly, near each photo. She makes the connection between Champion's journal and an old photo on the wall of Champion's mysteriously and unexplainably absent mother and father. The photo, that appears to be the only memento of his parents, is a photo of them, happily riding a bike together.
Immediately, Grandma goes and buys the child his first bike, a shiny red tricycle. For the first time the blasé, distant gaze drifts from Champion's face and he is transformed into the kid he is supposed to be, feverishly pedaling his tricycle with reckless abandon.
We next check in with Champion as an adult and this is where the movie takes a trip to the surreal. Each new person we meet is a clearly yet not-so-clearly defined caricature. You find yourself falling in love with these bizarre new persons. Even as cartoons there is incredible depth of character developed with scarcely a word spoken. The way each character is drawn and the backgrounds are illustrated, is beautifully reminiscent of a surrealist painting. If not for the plot this movie is worth watching for the artwork that smacks of an Emil Nolde lithograph. To add to the atmosphere, a musical score intrigues and then playfully tantalizes you as it replaces dialogue in telling the story.
What has been mentioned in this review only scratches the surface of a movie that amuses, entertains, provokes thought, invokes memories and visually stimulates. I highly recommend finding out what happens to Champion in his journey.
Reviewed by Garuch
Overall rating out of 10: 6.5
It is extremely important that the reader understand that I am apologizing for my prejudices in advance.
Here they are:
- I am not a fan of "adult animation."
- I am not a fan of Jazz music
- I am not a fan of works so subtle in their message that I feel as though I have to make it up myself.
Now given these prejudices, I will admit that I actually enjoyed this movie more the second time I viewed it than the first. Perhaps this is because the second time I viewed it, I made no pretense of, or nor any attempt at, understanding it. Once viewed on that basis the film lends itself to a certain humor. But, the question becomes, once again, one of deciding, am I laughing with this film or at it?
The plot is simplicity itself. Three cyclists are kidnapped from the tour de France, and conscripted into slave service pedaling fixed bicycles into a movie projection of a road course on a machine similar to a Coney Island Steeple Chase Carnival machine. Said machine located a French Wine Mafia Don's Betting Parlor.
We visit "our cyclist" in his early childhood and watch him become imbued his compulsion for cycling, we see him train at the hands of his mother-coach and then we follow the saga of her rescue mission as she and their faithful dog follow his trail to Bellville.
If the viewer look to this film as nothing more than an exploration of the absurd, then I would have to agree that the film fulfills its mission. But if there is anything beyond a pleasant amusement I fail to discern it. Based upon the popularity this film enjoys within the industry itself and amongst professional critics, the failure is obviously mine. I would guess one has to view it to truly claim a broad cinematic experience, and for that reason I would say give it a try, but...