A/V Room









Belleveille Rendez-vous (12A)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Original theatrical trailer; Making of documentary; Interview with director and art director; Animation lesson; Music video (and making of); Belleville Theme by M; 3 scenes with commentary; Region 0.

ANIMATED movies are enjoying something of a purple patch at the moment, given the phenomenal success of anything put out by the Pixar team, as well as the likes of Shrek (which has a sequel on the way).

And now it is the turn of the French to get in on the act, with a ridiculously surreal, yet hugely impressive animated adventure that should appeal to movie buffs of all ages - especially adults!

A labour of love for writer/director, Sylvain Chomet, Belleville Rendez-vous took ten years to complete, and it is easy to see why - not a frame feels wasted, and it should take at least a couple of viewings to fully appreciate everything that this richly detailed delight has to offer.

The film centres around wily old grandmother, Madame Souza, and her relationship with lonely adopted son, Champion.

Noticing that the lad is never happier than on a bicycle, Madame Souza puts him through a rigorous training process that eventually sees him ready to take on the Tour de France, by the time he reaches adulthood.

But during the mountain section of the prestigious event, Champion is kidnapped by two mysterious men in black and taken to the giant megalopolis known as Belleville, prompting Madame Souza and her beloved pet dog, Bruno, to mount a daring rescue operation, with the help of the renowned ‘Triplets of Belleville’, three eccentric female music-hall stars from the 30s.

From its outrageously awe-inspiring opening moments, through to its madcap finale, Belleville Rendez-vous is a genuinely thrilling tour-de-force that demands your complete and undivided attention.

The hand-drawn visual style may lend the film a somewhat antiquated feel, which plays well on both French and American caricatures, but the concept is so forward-looking, and the use of imagination so vast, the film feels like a true one of a kind.

And despite its tight 80 minutes, there is so much to enjoy, from the overweight Bruno’s ritual of barking at every train that goes by, to the visual inclination to send up just about everything, from French and American eating habits (the Statue of Liberty is seen packing a handburger) to the action movie genre (during the climactic chase scene). Even the smallest detail is worth raving about.

Clever, too, is the decision to keep the movie virtually dialogue-free, which should broaden its appeal to those who might be put off at the thought of having to sit through subtitles!

This is, in short, a masterclass in film-making; the type of which delivers treat after visceral treat, while keeping that smile etched permanently upon your face.

And in Bruno, especially, Chomet has created one of the all-time great cartoon characters, as well as the most unlikeliest of heroes.

Whether it’s leading the pursuit of Champion in a pedalo across the ocean, during the film’s most thrilling sequence, or trying to come to terms with the eccentric eating habits of the Triplets, he is the top dog in one of the finest and most original films of the year.

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