I saw this on Ebert & Roper a few weeks ago, and have since been enticed into finding a theatre where it's playing.
Trailer here: http://www.apple.com/trailers/sony/t...bellville.html
Movie site here: http://www.sonyclassics.com/triplets/#
The movie's plot is basically this: A French cyclist set to participate in the Tour De France lives with his kindly and feisty little grandma. However, during the preliminaries, he is kidnapped by a trio of mean-looking gents in suits. Grandma and her dog chase after the men to get her son back in time for the cycle race, but soon find themselves lost in the French city of Belleville. Fortunately, grandma hits it off well with a trio of performers from Belleville's swingin' flapper-girl past, the triplets of Belleville. Now eldery ladies themselves (though hardly any diminished in their musical talents) the girls take grandma under their wing and after rekindling their muse, help her track down her son.
The film itself seems to follow several conventions of French art cinema, and where animated comedy is concerned, this is a very good thing. The impression I get is that there's a heavy dose of influence from directors like Jean-Paul Junet. (City of Lost Children, Delicatessen, Amelie, Alien: Resurrection)
Sylvain Chomet, the creator and director of the film has been repsonsible for some excellent French comic work (Futuropolis, Casterman) and also created the Oscar-nominated short film "The Old Lady and the Pigeons."
The movie is heavy on human charicature styling, which is excellent as satirical charicature is something which France has a very long tradition of. The characters are all beautifully comical in their deviously creative exagerration...everything from the gangly and strangely agile triplets, to the overweight American tourists, to the square-bodied bespectacled thugs, to the bent-over-backwards French waiter. The characters are extremely personable and well-animated, coming off even more human than human at times.
In a similar manner, the exquisitely detailed backgrounds and environments are also displaced and charicatured, bringing to mind an evocative conjunction between the nostalgic detail of director Hayao Miyazaki's films and the expressionist stylization of urban environments in old silent films like "Metropolis" and "the cabinent of Dr. Caligari."
Dialogue is omitted in the movie, and conducted via pantomime for the most part, save for screams, gasps, laughter, and the swingin' soundtrack. Oh, and extra-emphasis on the soundtrack being swingin'. Watch the trailer to see what I mean...wow. That's some great stuff.
Oh yeah, and the film has been nominated for two Oscars. One for best animated film (Nemo will probably beat it out though) and one for its soundtrack.
I've really got to see this myself. I've been hearing nothing but good things from the folks who have seen it.