Belleville Rendez-Vous review

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Screened out of competition at Cannes, this French fancy is a sharp reminder that big-screen animation doesn't have to stick to gushy sentiment and celebrity voices. In fact, there aren't any voices at all in Sylvain Chomet's dialogue-free debut, which relies on a gorgeous blend of 2-D and 3-D visuals to unfurl its bizarre story.

The offbeat but oddly coherent plot centres on the kidnapping of a Tour de France cyclist by some Gallic gangsters. With faithful mutt in tow, the cyclist's gran pedals to the city of Belleville, where she mounts a daring rescue bid assisted by an elderly female trio of music-hall singers.

At times resembling a 'toon version of The Far Side directed by Amélie's Jean-Pierre Jeunet, this is more for your grown-up animation aficionado than the nippers. Should you have anklebiters in tow, though, they'll still be tickled by the Jacques Tati-inspired slapstick and the sheer variety of freaky faces on display. Dog lovers, on the other hand, should perhaps stay away - a couple of the crueller jokes will undoubtedly ruffle their fur.

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