This week, I found the rare film that bridges the gap between my Mad Max-loving husband and myself. By the time we finished The Triplets of Belleville (DVD/Download), we were both humming “Belleville Rendezvous”, and he enthusiastically admitted that this was the best French (mostly silent) cartoon he’s ever seen. Small pool, but I’ll take it!
Similar to The Artist, this film is largely dialogue-free, thus opening it up to a world-wide audience. You don’t need to speak French to laugh at Bruno the dog barking at trains, or the whistle-blowing little old lady with one oversized orthopedic shoe. It’s ALWAYS going to be funny. When her grandson gets kidnapped by the French mafia and forced into a simulated Tour de France, Grandma and Bruno travel across stormy seas to Belleville, a strange Metropolis-esque city up to no good. Their rescue operation gets some help from three aging singers with a hearty appetite for frogs, and soon they’re all making some strange, fantastic music. It’s delightful, it’s moving, and it’s a glorious love letter to old-school animation.
I don’t know much about cycling, but I do know that in the Tour, the Lanterne Rouge is the cyclist in last place who refuses to drop out. If that isn’t a metaphor for this whole movie, I don’t know what is. Break out the French aperitifs for a Red Lantern cocktail!
1 ½ oz vodka
½ oz Cointreau
½ oz Chambord
1 oz cranberry juice
½ oz lime juice
Fresh Blackberry or raspberry
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake, and then strain into a glass. Garnish with a blackberry and lime twist.
As I get older, and busier, I regret that I don’t take a chance on foreign cinema or animation the way I used to. The Triplets of Belleville reminds me that great films come from unexpected places, and in unexpected formats. And it also reminds me that some things, like the love between a boy and his grandma, or a boy and his dog, are universal. Cheers!