REVIEW: “I Lost My Body” (2019)

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The French animated fantasy drama “I Lost My Body” is one of the quirkiest features to come out of 2019. It’s consists of two fascinating halves that make up an interesting but not quite cohesive whole. It’s a movie that not only marches to its own beat but demands that viewers embrace it on its own terms. While I found that to be easier said than done, I can’t help but commend it for sticking to its visions and convictions.

“I Lost My Body” received a strong reception after screening at the Cannes Film Festival and was picked up by Netflix. It’s an adaptation of Guillaume Laurant’s novel “Happy Hand” that sees director Jérémy Clapin (who co-write the screenplay with Laurant) taking two narratives which seem unrelated on the surface but are clearly working their way together. It makes for one oddly braided story.

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On one hand (dopey pun intended) this is a macabre adventure tale where a …ahem…severed hand ventures across a treacherous Parisian district in an attempt to reconnect (please forgive me) with its body. The movie begins with the hand breaking out of a medical lab refrigerator. It takes a second to shake off the wackiness of the idea, but soon we’re caught up in this peculiar ‘journey home‘ storyline. Along the way the hands faces numerous challenges and perils: a protective mother pigeon, subway rats, a busy freeway among other things.

On the other hand we get the story of Naoufel (voiced by Hakim Faris), a teenager who has had a rough go. Through thoughtfully crafted flashbacks we learn that Naoufel lost his parents at a young age. He was sent to live with his apathetic uncle and bully of a cousin in Paris. Lost and clinging to his painful past, Naoufel has an encounter that gives him hope. While delivering pizza to an apartment complex he strikes up a conversation with Gabrielle (Victoire Du Bois) over an intercom. It gives Naoufel a spark of life and he sets out to learn more about her.

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As we watch the two storylines which are inevitably bound to intersect, one question in constantly in your mind. How did Naoufel lose his hand. One narrative heads towards it while the other represents present day. It’s undeniably original and engaging. The problem is one is more interesting than the other. In many of Naoufel’s scenes I often found myself wondering about the hand? How far had it come? Was it in danger? This is due to Clapin filling the hand’s journey with a surprising amount of tension while some scenes with Naoufel are a bit more uneven.

Reoccurring motifs and images tease deeper meanings that (I assume) are meant to be better understood as the film reaches its end. But the ambiguous finish makes it a challenge mainly because the story never got its hooks deep enough in me to encourage much afterthought. Yet despite the difficulty in uncovering answers, “I Lost My Body” still manages to be an endearing meditation on physical and emotional displacement, childhood loss, and loneliness wrapped up in a beautiful animated style.

VERDICT – 3.5 STARS

3-5-stars

 

18 thoughts on “REVIEW: “I Lost My Body” (2019)

    • It’s a case where I saw it mainly because of its Oscar nomination combined and easy availability on Netflix. I’m glad I did even though I may not be as high on it as some are.

      • hehe yeah I was big on this, even if some obvious themes flew over my head! It is one that I watched a few times , and that for me is how i judge what I liked most,sometimes at least… though The Nightingale and A Hidden Life are the kind of exceptions that I loved, but they are heavy watches. Especially a hidden life, I’m reading your review of it now :] Did you ever see the Nightingale?

      • Oh bummer! It is an amazing story, the will of an Irish convict down here in the 1830’s is inspiring. When I saw it at our film fest, the director (the Badadook) explainined the lengths that she and her team went to research this period in Australian history., as the decade it is based in means the Australia that is depicted is only 60 years old after being ‘settled’ by the British (don’t get me started on that issue hehe).

        I’ve heard people complain about certain issues, but I have a strong feeling these won’t even occur to you as the attitude towards such opinions are very similar the absurd frenzy that surrounded the Joker.

        I’d love to know if you do ever see it! I thought it was incredible and it and Sweet Country (another historic Australian film) are probably the two best Australian films ever made. Their themes and how they are presented… boy do they take a long time to leave your mind.

  1. It’s one of the movies I’m covering tomorrow in my weekly blog, “Movies, Movies, Movies” but with less detail. I agree with everything you said here about it. I’m not real thrilled with the ambiguous ending either.

    • I want to read your extended thoughts. I know some people who REALLY love this movie. I really wanted to, but I never could shake those issues I had with it.

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