Recommendation: Enchanting as it is bizarre, the film isn’t a complete home run, but the affecting parts are pure poetry and worth the uneven—albeit short—runtime. 7.5/10.
IMDB Synopsis: A story of Naoufel, a young man who is in love with Gabrielle. In another part of town, a severed hand escapes from a dissection lab, determined to find its body again.
The concept of I Lost My Body is startlingly macabre: A disembodied hand embarks on a journey to rejoin the body that it has been separated from. Animated, yes, but poetically so, the film doesn’t blow away audiences with its animation technique, but rather sweeps up the audience in what is best described as poetry in motion.
The film is split into two two parallel storylines that come crashing together by film’s end. The titular hand that lost its body leads one thread, while a love story—one that borders on stalker-like behavior—leads the other avenue. The hand storyline is the stronger of the two, showing the daring and oftentimes brutal journey that the hand undertakes to be reunited with its body. Often times the audience is treated to the hand’s point of view, showing the world at a scale that is both unnerving and wonderful. The sequences are daring and wonderfully animated—shoutout to the scene in the subway—and if this was only about the hand’s journey, it would quite possibly be a perfect short film.
The other arc fixates on dispirited pizza delivery boy Naoufel (Hakim Faris). Tragically orphaned and living with his disaffected uncle and jerk cousin, Naoufel has a chance encounter delivering to Gabrielle (Victoire Du Bois) that changes his life. Soon Naoufel learns where Gabrielle works and takes up an apprenticeship with her uncle, a woodworker. This section of the film, while whimsically told, dredges up the all-too-familiar stalker-turned-romance, creating an uneven tone that juxtaposes harshly with the hand’s magical storyline.
It’s not a secret that the two storylines will come crashing together (and do). It’s what the film does in the aftermath of the conjoined storylines and how it resolves both the hand and Naoufel/Gabrielle plots, that makes the film stick. It both broadens our understanding of Naoufel’s past, gives closure to the hand story, and gives the protagonists emotional catharsis that allows for a sympathetic and beautiful ending.
I Lost My Body is by no means a perfect film, giving credence to a kind of male rage, luckily it doesn’t let the character off the hook. But the magical qualities of what works in the film are wholly original and deeply affecting. At a brisk 81 minutes, I Lost My Body can be devoured quickly, but will linger long after.
MVP: Everyone involved in this film. Breathing life into a dismembered hand, let alone one the audience should root for, is nothing short of an achievement.
Highlights: The aforementioned subway scene. And the final 10 minutes are glorious.
Directors: Jérémy Clapin
Studio: Xilam Animation // Original release date: November 6, 2019