Finally got round to watching Sylvain Chomet’s Les Triplettes de Belleville/ The Triplets of Belleville last night. And I must say: if you’re in for an extraordinary car chase, then this is the movie to watch! First, it has three of my favourite things in it: trains, wicked old ladies and nightmares. Then, it’s a (mostly) silent movie, making it a feat of extraordinary animation and expressive, carricature-style characters parading on-screen for your entertainment.
I noticed that people who talk about it on-line tend to say that the movie is incredibly good despite the lack of dialogue. Well, it probably won’t come as a surprise when I say that I belive it’s a fantastic film because of the lack of dialogue. It just goes to prove that emotional language (via gestures, facial expressions and, in animation, colours and shapes) is universal. If anything, dialogue would have destroyed the expressivity of carefully constructed animation. Belleville is a film that works strictly through character and in it character is constructed through well-defined particularities.
What’s most interesting is that the character I liked best is the fat dog, Bruno. Mad about trains (he just can’t abstain from barking at them), this lazy dog conceals a complicated and revealing psyche (his black and white nightmares are, really, uncanny projections of reality, once you shake off the grotesque first impression and start focusing on dream imagery as a symbol). He is also the most sympathetic character – to me, at least – since he is clearly the most used and abused (albeit lovingly). Throughout the film, I’ve often felt, in fact, that I was being pushed/discreetly guided into sharing Bruno’s point of view. (Which must be why I felt that he was the most humane character, whilst everyone else was a bittersweet parody of humanity. Or maybe not.)
In any case, the film was excellent: exquisite soundtrack, exciting array of characters and amazing mixture of carricature, film noir, sugar, spice, everything nice and everything nasty too! There are a lot of unexpected twists that’ll keep you swinging between ill-concealed sniggers and misty eyes. This is a definite must watch. (Don’t take my word for it, though; go and see it, then you can judge for yourselves. :3)
Okay, I’ll be off watching Chomet’s La Vieille Dame et les Pigeons/ The Old Lady and the Pigeons now. I may let myself be tricked into reviewing that later.