Movie Reviews
The Very Best Bike Movies

Triplets of Belleville Cover The Triplets of Belleville

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

The Triplets of Belleville is an animated film – but it ain’t Disney.

Don’t expect a fun ride, with brave heroes, cute animals and light humor. Instead, this wacky yet charming film serves up inspired goofiness – a cross between Jacques Tati and Asterix.

It’s the story of familial love and loyalty wrapped around a great bicycle race. But bike aficionados beware; bicycle racers are portrayed as mindless machines with grotesquely overdeveloped lower-body muscles.

And why the long face? Because Champion, the hero with a one-track-mind, has no more depth or sense than a racehorse. Indeed, horse imagery pops up throughout the film, and the bicyclists often neigh and grunt like horses!

Also unsettling is the film’s treatment of issues that have been tearing up the Tour de France for years, drugs and money. In a disconcerting scene, robot-like bike racers – hooked up to intravenous wine bottles – ride stationary bikes while thugs gamble on the outcome.

Otherwise, the film is compelling. The story, however farfetched, is full of creative twists, such as using dynamite to catch dinner. The characters are colorful and unforgettable. The fawning waiter could be the most ingratiating character in cinema; the bad guys are really ominous; society ladies carry their husbands like purses.

All this is achieved with almost no dialogue, which speaks to the artistry of the animation.

Here are two tips (no spoilers) to help you enjoy the film:

The triplets are not the bicyclists featured in the trailer, but rather three old gals who sing for a living.
Most of the dialogue is intentionally unintelligible, so don’t strain to understand it. Even the words to the Oscar-nominated theme song are mostly gibberish, ending with “…twisted like a triplet from Bellville.”
And delightfully twisted the film is, especially after a second and third viewing.

Title: The Triplets of Belleville
Year Released: 2003
Duration: 80 minutes
Language: French
Bike Content: 9/10 wheels

Posted by Greg Borzo on 09/03 at 10:20 PM