French Title: Les triplettes de Belleville
This strange little animated yarn tells the tale of Madame Souza who, with her large pooch Bruno, sets off in search of her grandson, a cyclist who was kidnapped during the Tour de France. On the way, she meets up with and enlists the help of the Triplets of Belleville, three aging sisters who had a singing group back in the days of Fred Astaire.
It truly is a film of quirky beauty, decked out with some of the strangest animation I’ve ever seen, and little to no dialogue. It presents itself mostly as a musical comedy, but there is a bit of sadness at the edges. Madame Souza is desperate to find her grandson, who she has raised and formed her entire life around. Though there is no dialogue between the two, one can easily see how much they care for one another. In fact, the characters and relationships in this film are much more defined than those in many films of greater length and more words.
A short film, it goes down quite easily, especially the two stand-out scenes: an hysterical car chase through the city and a musical performance where the Triplets and Madame Souza substitute various household items (a newspaper, a refrigerator, a bicycle tire, and a vacuum cleaner) for regular instruments. I would call it a Disney film on acid, but then I’d feel like I was undermining the wonderful heart and soul of the movie, which delves deeper into human relationships and emotions than most Disney films have ever managed.