Matthew at defective yeti reviewed The Triplets of Belleville recently, and mentioned that a review he’d read likened the film to Delicatessen and City of Lost Children, a resemblance that he did not see.

I did, and in a review, so I assumed that he was among the five people who read my film stuff in Tablet.

Tonight Viv and I went out for dinner and film, and Triplets was the most interesting film in the neighborhood, so we went. Viv rarely gets to see films with me when I attend a review screening (they’re usually during the day), so it was her first time seeing the film and my second.

At dinner, I picked up a Stranger to check film schedules, and what did I see?

Writer-director-animator Sylvain Chomet invokes the same absurdly entertaining and overwhelmingly brown nostalgia that Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro tapped into for Delicatessen and City of Lost Children (all three filmmakers are indebted to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil).

That’s from Andy Spletzer’s film short. Ah. So Matthew probably read Andy’s review, not mine. Oops. For all that, Matthew’s feeling that Jeunet and Caro’s flicks are unlike Triplets is ungrounded; all three feel very much like a certain breed of Francophone comics, which is where all three creators began their careers.

The film is playing Seattle with the recreated/restored Salvador Dali / Walt Disney production, Destino, a project initiated and shelved in the late forties by the two moustachioed creators. The recreation is, uh, underwhelming – limited, frame-fade animation is used for no apparent reason. The film looks very computer-assisted. Why not let the app do the tweening? Additionally, the postwar era is not the high point for either man’s creative powers, and the film reflects the constricted boundaries that both artists were turning to.

Entertainingly, I did see something new in Triplets – a supporting character, a mouselike midget engineer inventor, looks suspiciously like a well-known studio head, famed for his association with an animated mouse. The engineer character designs and builds a film-projector that is driven by pedaling athletes held captive by the French wine mob. Chomet, Triplets‘ director, goes so far as to show us a photo of the engineer wearing mouse ears. I’m pretty sure it’s a poke at Disney’s dominance of animated entertainment; the engineer is the flunky of murdering kidnappers and his audience is held in bondage.

2 thoughts on “Ah, oops

  1. I would have enjoyed Triplets a great deal more than I did if all that whimsy and remarkable attention to detail had been married either 1) a plot or 2) surrealism or 3) all of the above.

    Not to say that I didn’t enjoy watching it, it’s just that the lights went up and I said, “that’s it?” It feels like there should have been more to it…

  2. Someone in Matt’s comment thread noted that the film is ‘much about French culture,’ a view I concur with. The director also prominently features a poster for the Jacques Tati film, Les Vacances de Monseuir Hulot, which is also regarded by certains gens as plotless.

    It’s a feature, not a bug!

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