Les Triplettes de Belleville (aka Belleville Rendez-vous; The Triplets of Belleville in English) is a 2003 French-Canadian animated feature film directed and written by Sylvain Chomet. Featuring the voices of Michèle Caucheteux, Jean-Claude Donda, Michel Robin, and Monica Viegas, it was highly praised by audiences and critics for its unique (and somewhat retro) style of animation.
It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Original Song (Benoît Charest and Sylvain Chomet for the song "The Triplets of Belleville") and Best Animated Feature.
Following a 1930s-style cartoon parody featuring the singing Triplettes of the title (Violette, Blanche, and Rose, named after the colours of the French flag) in their heyday, as well as caricatures of Django Reinhardt, Josephine Baker, and Fred Astaire, the story focuses on Madame Souza, an elderly woman raising her orphaned grandson Champion.
While he is a child, she buys him a tricycle, and as the years pass he achieves such excellence as a bicycle rider that he enters the Tour de France. Unfortunately he and two other riders are kidnapped and brought to the fictional city of Belleville (the inhabitants of Belleville represent caricatured 1950s era American stereotypes, but the city itself is a cross between Paris, Montreal and New York; it is not strictly in the United States, since the people of Belleville speak French to the extent that they speak at all) where a gangster forces them to bicycle all day long on a gambling machine located in the bowels of the Belleville French Wine Center. With the aid of the family dog Bruno, Madame Souza sets off across the Atlantic on a small pedalboat to the city of Belleville where she meets the Triplettes - now aged and decrepit but still performing - and between them they set out to rescue her grandson.
The film is extremely satirical, depicting the French as a society of weak men domineered by bossy, obese women; in turn, it depicts Americans as either gross, comically obese people, or muscular mobsters. The film features no spoken dialogue per se, though some spoken words (such as Tour de France radio commentary and a speech by Charles De Gaulle on evening TV) are included sporadically throughout the picture.
For many, the film's strength is found in its visual nuances and wit. The sight of an exceedingly Django Reinhardt-like charcter playing along to the dancing 'Triplettes' (who in their old age continue to entertain in the form of a cabaret/skiffle act using household items [fridges, vacuum cleaners] as mad instruments) and the most dynamic animated car chase you're ever likely to see.
Chomet freely admits to influences from the comic realms of the sitcom. For example, the waiter at a club is based upon Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers.