One of the more surprising critical hits of 2003, Sylvain Chomet's Belleville Rendezvous
is a French animation that combines occasional beauty and charm with sardonic grotesquerie. People have commented about its bitchy portrait of a USA where everyone is overweight and over-helpful; it is equally nasty about a provincial France, where everything is grey and nothing is convenient. A grandmother and her dog set out to rescue a cyclist who has been kidnapped by the French Mafia and is forced to race endlessly into a receding projected landscape; she is helped by a superannuated trio of female close-harmony chansonniers
marooned in American poverty.
Nothing in this film is mere chance--almost everything we see turns out to be relevant. There is also little dialogue--most of the time, sound effects and music take its place, from the irritating squeak of a mechanic's breathing to the sublimity of Mozart's "Kyrie" as a storm rages at sea. Belleville Rendezvous uses the best of traditional animation techniques and modern technology to produce something sharply funny and beautifully composed; it is not quite like anything you have seen before. --Roz Kaveney
Noticing that her grandson, Champion, is a lonely little boy, Madame Souza buys him his first bicycle. Years go by, and with Madame Souza putting him through his paces, Champion becomes worthy of his name. Now he is ready to enter the worlds most famous cycling competition, the Tour de France. But no sooner than the race begun, two mysterious men in black kidnap him and it is up to Madame Souza and her faithful dog, Bruno, to rescue him.
Soon, their quest takes them to a giant metropolis called Belleville, where they encounter three eccentric female music hall stars of the 1930s and do battle with the evil French mafia. But can they rescue Champion? A visual treat for young and old alike, this stunning film has captured the imagination of audience the world over with its unique blend of classic animation and razor-sharp wit.