Review: The Triplets of Belleville

The 2003 animated film The Triplets of Belleville won a slew of awards and now, in a nod to the silent movie era, its Oscar-nominated score is performed live to a screening at the Adelaide Town Hall.

Benoît Charest composed the film’s score and leads Le Terrible Orchestre de Belleville in accompaniment of an oddly rollicking story of a kidnapped cyclist and his tenacious grandmother who stops at no obstacle or law of physics to get her grandson back, aided by a mysterious and eccentric trio of music-hall divas.

It’s all terrific fun. The playful band is totally at home with the material, in many cases uniting so seamlessly with the film that it is easy to forget for a time that the music is live. Equally impressive is when band members enact some of the stranger musical sequences of the film using much the same ‘instruments’ as the characters are playing on the screen — a vacuum cleaner and a newspaper stand out in particular.

In the more frenetic passages the band emerges distinctly from the motion picture, perhaps through sheer volume as much as anything, periodically readjusting the experience from something cinematic to one of live jazz.

The film is virtually dialogue free, lending great prominence to the score and installing it as a kind of narrator of the story. It’s an ideal soundtrack to a romp through a curious and beautifully animated universe.

The Triplets of Belleville was performed at Adelaide Town Hall on Thursday, March 5

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