I Lost My Body Review - Bizarre, realistic and emotionally beautiful

I Lost My Body Review - Bizarre, realistic and emotionally beautiful

For most of the pop-culture fans who loved The Addams Family, would know that severed hands don't mean a thing nor does it gross us out. I Lost My Body is another fantasy yet relatable and thought-provoking film from Netflix. Since it is in French, you might have to stick to the subtitles while viewing it. The film is fundamentally weird and potentially off-putting. But it’s also visually and emotionally beautiful, one of 2019’s most ambitious, engaging films. Filmmaker Jérémy Clapin has adapted Guillaume Laurant‘s novel “Happy Hand” for this animated epic, that took him and his animation team several years to complete. The effort was well worth it. I Lost My Body became the first-ever animated film to win the Nespresso Grand Prize at Cannes and is destined for more awards in the future. The film begins with the hand lying in a pool of spreading blood, at the moment of the incident that cut it free. The reason behind the separation of the hand from the body is made clear only at the end. Instead, Clapin concentrates on the hand’s “awakening” and step-by-step escape from a hospital morgue, as it dodges people and navigates hazards on its way out of the building. In the eerie grey background, the story drifts back to small, ordinary past moments when the hand was part of a body — holding toys, playing musical instruments, even exploring the gooey boogers in a wet nostril. But eventually, those flashbacks turn into a larger backstory. The hand’s original owner is Naoufel, a young Parisian whose happy childhood was cut short by an event that left him in the care of sullen, indifferent relatives. Now older and working as a pizza-delivery boy, Naoufel is withdrawn, uncommunicative, and shy. However, not all circumstances act to oppose him. Even in his darkest moments, the fates align to put him back on his intended path, even if he doesn’t know quite what that path is at the moment. So when a chance run-in with the mysterious Gabrielle (Victoire Du Bois) gives Naoufel a new purpose in life, he’ll follow that spark wherever it takes him, for better or worse. Naoufel seems like a lonely protagonist in a romantic drama, destined to get the girl and win the day. In other moments, his cowardly, deceptive behaviour is hard to respect. Gabrielle, meanwhile, often seems like a distant fantasy rather than a character, though their first conversation hints at disaffection. They’re exaggerated caricatures of people who rarely feel like they belong anywhere they go. A lot of I Lost My Body is intense, especially the climax. The hand’s battle against rats in the Paris Metro is as throat-clenching and its troubles with a pigeon are startling and grotesque. As the story builds toward the key moments, Clapin alternates between pensive tension and breathtaking tension. It’s startling how much drama and goodwill he generates out of such a weird and humorous image — a body part crawling around on its own, fighting tiny wars and taking huge risks. It’s enough to make decades of silly severed-hand comedy-horror look more tragic and lovely in retrospect. The audiences will yearn wanting more of this cathartic saga of being a lonely 'part' in this world, especially a world that forces us to leave 'parts' of ourselves behind. It is about finding beauty in this dark, desolate world where you have to fight your own battles and find your own 'bodies' to feel complete.

Rating: 4/5


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