This is a charming film, full of wit and humour. Set in France, it tells the story of a boy called Champion who wishes to compete in the Tour de France. Living with his grandmother after the death of his parents, he is encouraged and driven on by her, cycling miles every day to reach his goal. There is a dark humour throughout; as Champion and several other cyclists are kidnapped by mafia-type gangsters and taken to New York, his grandmother sets out on a journey to find him and bring him back to France.
This story is told without any of the characters speaking; essentially it is a 'silent' film, with the audience shown the story. The animation is absolutely fantastic though, as it focuses on the more grotesque things in life. The characters are lovingly rendered, all becoming caricatures of real life, from the gangsters (who all look like tombstones!) to Champion's grandmother and the triplets of Belleville. Champion's dog is especially touching with his love of trains and the melancholy gait as he traipses around the house. It is full of sound and music too: one particular scene has the triplets singing in a 1940s style close harmony group, using only 'found' items such as their fridge shelves and pots to create a musical backing.
The film is wonderfully dark and brooding, with the cities and the characters all larger than life. The animation is some of the best I have seen, and the use of music throughout is well judged. It feels like the film is from a different era, echoing the triplet's 1940's style music. It is well worth adding to your collection if you particularly like animated films or French cinema.