The Triplets of Belleville

The world of The Triplets of Belleville, especially once it moves to New York, is one of grotesques and as such is a little off-putting.  It depicts a world of decay.  The triplets, who once played with the likes of Django Reinhardt and Josephine Baker for the entertainment of a corpulent upper-class, now barely subsist on a diet of . . . .  well, you’ll see.  And the grandson, shown first in the playfulness of his youth, has been reduced to a somnambulist whose zombie-like movements barely depict life at all.  Still, no matter how bad things get, and I think this is the takeaway from the movie, one can always take solace in humor, ingenuity, and the ability of the individual to rise above his or her surroundings.  Regarding the humor, The Triplets of Bellville is a very funny movie.  The dog is hysterical.  Like practically all the characters in the movie, he’s seen better days, and watching him go through the motions of a routine that hasn’t changed in years, although obviously he has, is pretty funny.  His dreams though take it up to 11 and are worth the price of admission alone.  Ingenuity is on display in the way the characters re-purpose the objects around them.  For example, an egg beater and a manual lawnmower become instruments of massage.  There are others too, but I won’t spoil them here.  Which brings me to the ability of the individual to rise above.  The triplets may have seen better days, but they remain undefeated, as alive and vibrant as ever.  Stuck in a world of prostitutes, uncleansed latrines, and cockroaches, they walk past it, managing to retain their dignity, their sense of humor, their compassion, and even their ability to perform.  And then there is the grandmother, the unchanging Rock of Gibraltar.  Steadfastly, she does what she can to improve her grandson’s life, to help him find his passion in life, to support him in his subsequent pursuit of it, and when he is in need to come to his rescue.  Though the grotesqueness of the style may make this movie one I likely won’t care to watch again, the Triplets of Bellville is definitely worth seeing once–a funny, unique, and memorable movie.

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