I Lost My Body is a French animated film by Jérémy Clapin. It has been adapted from Guillaume Laurant‘s novel “Happy Hand” (who incidentally is one of the writers of the 2001 movie, Amélie). And it is a dichotomous ride. To recap, we see a severed hand journey its way through the streets of Paris in search of its owner. And then, there is a French-Moroccan delivery boy (Naoufel) who is in search of his purpose in life. It sounds like a strange premise and is even weirder to watch. So, let’s break it down.
Hand Lost its Body?
Within the first few seconds of the movie, the screenplay establishes two separate timelines. An older Naoufel is lying on the floor with a severed hand groaning in pain with an unknown old man fussing over him. Immediately after, we get a glimpse of a young Naoufel who is learning how to catch a fly by his dad. We don’t yet know the connection between the two pieces. But we see the launch of a juxtaposition that carries through the remainder of the movie.
The movie is in equal parts sweet and gruesome. We see young Naoufel behaving like a kid and learning about life through the sensations he feels from his hands. We see him using his fingers to circle the sun and follow an aircraft in the sky. In contrast, we get to watch the severed hand travel through Paris in unusual ways by using hangers on wires to move through buildings. It is exhilarating to watch the hand’s adventures. The hand almost feels sentient. It tries to protect itself from rats in the subway by using an abandoned lighter. Later, it manipulates the dog of a blind piano player to rescue itself.
Slowly, as the movie progresses, we get to meet the catalyst of Naoufel’s story. The meet cute is the perfect setup for a romance. Naoufel is the pizza delivery boy to Gabrielle, who lives in a gated apartment complex. There is an instant introduction of class differences between the two with Naoufel being the poor immigrant orphan and her being a trendy bossy woman. They don’t hit off instantly and spend a few minutes bickering. With time (rain is the best wingman, EVER) they get comfortable and ease into a conversation.
Naoufel and Gabrielle
After this encounter, Naoufel is moved to do something about his life and he tries to reach out to her (like a total creep). He follows her to her uncle’s place. He then convinces the man to hire him as his apprentice in his shop. Gabrielle and him get closer and he starts transforming. He learns how to build things and dream and put things into action. But his life is not so simple. Gabrielle does not know him as the delivery guy. And there is the unsolved mystery of what happened to him and his hand.
In a nutshell…
This is a movie about separation, grief, love, searching for missing pieces of yourself and growing up. The direction is incredible as the movie sifts through tones like changing clothes. The lead actors, Hakim Faris and Victoire Du Bois, lend their voices perfectly to their respective characters with the exact amount of familiarity, depth and weight. The color palette has been used efficiently to add to the mysteriousness in the adventures of the severed hand and color to the personalities of its lead characters. The music of the film given by Dan Levy adds a beautiful layer to characterize the journey of its protagonists, including the hand. The cinematography is breathtaking. Some of the shots are pure genius in their creativity.
I Lost My Body is definitely deserving of all the awards and accolades it has received. It is not an easy film to watch. It requires some courage to make it through the end. But I guarantee that you will be rewarded with an enthralling experience. Being a part of Netflix suits it well because it is one of those films that you need multiple rewatches to appreciate completely.
I Lost My Body is available now to stream on Netflix