Saturday, 10 February 2018

Belleville Rendez - Vous (2003) - Film Review

Fig 1. Film Poster
The Belleville Rendez - Vous (2003) or translated as 'The Triplets of Belleville',was written and directed by Sylvain Chomet. Chomet is a French Animator, who showcased his film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2003. The animation is in 2D and traditionally hand drawn. Chomet is also know for directing the film 'The Illustionist' in 2010, which is similar in its style but much more toned down. The Belleville Rendez - Vous is set from 1900's to the 1930's. The animated feature tells the story of a Grandma who raises her own grandson and will do anything to make him happy. Even if that means helping him achieve his dreams as a Tour De France cyclist.

The films characters are far from the average design, each character's physic is profoundly exaggerated. This I feel adds more to their individual personalities. For example the 'happy waiter' is tall, flimsy and has a massive grin on his face. His whole body bends and flexes to his customers needs, making even his own body movements exaggerated too. (See Figure 2) 

Most of the taller characters have really long noses and stretched necks, where as the short characters are on the other end of the extreme with much smaller noises and stubbier bodies. 
"To call it weird would be a cowardly evasion. It is creepy, eccentric, eerie, flaky, freaky, funky, grotesque, inscrutable, kinky, kooky, magical, oddball, spooky, uncanny, uncouth and unearthly." (Ebert R, 2003)

You could say that the character's features are truly unusual. However, due to the lack of dialogue  this choice of design acts as the verbal communication through out the film. Like silent movies, the film focuses on others ways to tell a story through comedic movement and expression.
"The hand-drawn animation gives the primarily dialogue-free Belleville Rendez-Vous a deliberately antiquated visual style, and Chomet relishes caricaturing the body shapes of his characters - whether it's the overly muscular thighs and protuberant nose of Champion, or the grotesquely obese residents of Belleville." (Dawson, T 2003)

As well as exaggerating the characters features, the directer has enhanced and played upon the "French stereotypes." The Triplets of Belleville invite Madame Souza into their home as a place of rest and shelter until she finds her grandson. Souza is shocked when she discovers that all they eat is frogs. The director manages to poke fun at the french stereotypes that society makes, with out it being offensive. Almost pointing out at how ridiculous these stereotypes are and how these extreme persona's don't really exist.

The film is heavily influenced by the french culture. Audiences outside of this culture may not understand these differences: "There are certain references within The Triplets of Belleville that American audiences may not be receptive to because these references are intended for French audiences. The mania surrounding the Tour de France, for example, may not be ingrained in the American audience’s cultural encyclopedia." (Levine, S 2013)

Although the film seems strange at first it begins to grow on you as you start to understand the directors intentions. It goes from what you think is "weird" to humorous, different and fun. 

Ebert R, (2003) The Triplets of Belleville
(Accessed 08.02.18)

The Scotsman (2010) Interview: Sylvain Chomet, Direcor of The Illusionist
(Accessed 08.02.18)

Dawson, T (2003) Belleville Rendez - Vous (2003) /08/06/belleville_rendezvous_2003_review.shtml
(Accessed 08.02.18)

Levine, S (2013) Intertextual Rendez-Vous: Viewing The Triplets of Belleville from an American Perspective
(Accessed 08.02.18)

Belleville Rendez - Vous (2003) Film

Illustration List
Figure 1. Film Poster
(Accessed 08.02.18)

Figure 2. Film Still
(Accessed 08.02.18)

Figure 3.
(Accessed 08.02.18)

Figure 4.
(Accessed 08.02.18)

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