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Movie Review – The Triplets of Belleville (Les Triplettes de Belleville - 2003 - France)

Updated on February 10, 2012

There are many ways in which creative artists can use the medium of film to speak to their audience: it is an extraordinarily flexible art form. But—because it can achieve such a startling degree of realism, so that we feel we really are where the film takes us—its full creative potential is sometimes denied. Early filmmakers immediately saw that potential, and the German Expressionist movement was merely the first of many waves of artists exploring the upper reaches of film as a tool for art.

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In the present, most of that creative energy has become focused on animation, and understandably so. Animated films can take us anywhere, in this world or in some other, and can be populated with the most diverse cast imaginable, and they can do all that at a fraction of the cost of trying to do so with real sets and a flesh and blood cast. Classic animation, whether hand-drawn or utilizing stop motion technique and a three dimensional palettes—as does claymation—is also still cheaper to produce than computer-generated imagery and arguably can remain more intensely the artistic work of one person.


The Triplets of Belleville is a hugely successful example of a truly creative animated film experience. It uses the oldest form of animation—hand-drawn cells—and reaches far past the constraints of realist style into the realm of expressionism. The story is not complicated—a poor but plucky grandmother adopts her orphaned grandson, whose only joy comes from fantasizing about becoming a cycling star. She trains him herself, utilizing household objects in lieu of expensive sports gadgets, and he becomes so good that he is abducted by the mob to become one of their stable of racing "things"—treated exactly the way race horses and dogs are treated.


The grandmother is undaunted and, with the aid of the most unlikely allies—her elderly, overweight dog, Bruno, and then the equally elderly and wonderfully eccentric Triplets—sets out to rescue him. The film is also nearly silent; its creator, Sylvain Chomet, chooses to tell the tale almost entirely in visuals. One underlying theme is the value of persistence, and the resourcefulness of the disenfranchised. Both are topics rarely touched upon in cinematic work, and both are worthy of our attention. Because the visuals are so breathtaking, the work also speaks eloquently to the resourcefulness of art, and artists, even in the face of crushing obstacles, such as the financial restraints of modern film making and marketing. How wonderful that this visual poem exists! I cannot say enough about how refreshing this film is, or how much I adore it.

Very highly recommended.

Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.

(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at


Genre: Drama, Animation, Art House, Comedy

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 1 hr. 21 min.

Directed By: Sylvain Chomet

Written By: Sylvain Chomet

In Theaters: Nov 26, 2003 Wide

On DVD: May 4, 2004

Box Office: $6.8M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classic

Cast (voices):

Béatrice Bonifassi - Triplets (singing voice)

Lina Boudreau - Triplets (voice)

Michèle Caucheteux - (voice)

Jean-Claude Donda - (voice)


When it comes to animation, I prefer:

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    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Thanks Minnetonka Twin, for the kind words! It's a terrific movie and I hope you enjoy it very much!

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 5 years ago from Minnesota

      What a wonderful review and I'm planning on seeing this movie now. Thanks for the great pictures and the trailer. Nothing like a good animated movie to make you happy.

    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      If you enjoy creative animation this is definitely one you'll love!

    • precy anza profile image

      precy anza 5 years ago from USA

      You just made me smile tonight ^-^' I enjoyed the trailer and the photos too. I just love animated movies!!

    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      I agree; it's as if all the CGI stuff has made animation more appreciated. You'll enjoy this picture, it's a lot wittier and just plain more fun than my review makes it sound!

    • profile image

      thatmovieguy71 5 years ago

      Very well written review, DIYmyOmy! I am ashamed to say that I have not seen The Triplets of Belleville. I plan on seeing this movie soon though, thanks to your review. I think we are in the second Golden Age of animation - some really good stuff out there.