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Madame Souza lives with her bored and lonely son in a dark tower in Paris. Only when she gives him a bike does the boy find a passion in life. He trains, makes it into the tour de france, and gets kidnapped by the French mafia for sinister betting games in Belleville. Souza and the famous Triplets girl band decide to find and rescue him, killing and eating many frogs on the way.

Art design, characters, atmosphere – the film is absolutely fabulous in many respects. It has a very unnerving surreal atmosphere, it is outright creepy, especially the weird and actually quite gruelling household the three heroes share (mother, son, dog). And the weird and gruelling household the triplets share in Belleville, moloch of fast food, fat people and ruthless capitalism…
The film is terrific two thirds through. It loses a bit its story line when everybody has been been introduced, the scene set, the kidnapped abused and the frogs mutilated – when it then turns towards the cyclist liberation act, it does not really know where to go with them – a bit of a car / bicycling chase, actually a rather extended one. And a very nice final shot, and that was it. So while the overwhelming creativity of the first half did not hold up for the whole movie, it is definitely a masterpiece of animation and of story-telling.
Summarising Roger Ebert’s review is about as easy than summarising what is great about this film, so he probably got it right: “It’s one of those movies where you keep banging your fist against your head to stop yourself from using the word meets, as in Monsieur Hulot meets Tim Burton, or the Marquis de Sade meets Lance Armstrong.”

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