Director: Jérémy Clapin
Cast: Hakim Faris, Victoire Du Bois, Patrick d’Assumçao
Watch I Lost My Body online in the UK: 29th November 2019
Jérémy Clapin’s I Lost My Body became the first animation in history to win the prestigious Critics’ Week Grand Prize at Cannes. With great award wins come great expectations, and Clapin’s soulful fantasia just about fulfils them. While ostensibly promising to be a mad tale of the macabre, a riff on severed hand horrors such as The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) and The Hand (1981), it’s not really a spoiler to say I Lost My Body scurries off in the opposite direction, becoming a strikingly animated journey into emotionally shattering existential themes. It won the prize at Cannes exactly for these attributes.
Clapin takes what could be a schmaltzy kid’s movie or Disney formula and spins it into something infinitely stranger. If you replaced the severed hand with a talking dog, for instance, you’d get the story of a plucky hound determined to make it home, having lost its owner somewhere, somehow, while experiencing trials and tribulations along the way. The fact I Lost My Body deals with a reanimated hand on a quest across Paris is a wonderfully absurdist touch and affords the film plenty of opportunity for surreal imagery (the hand being chased by rats, the hand placing a dummy into a baby’s mouth, the hand looking like a hermit crab, when it uses a discarded tin of ravioli as a protective shell). There is a tremendous amount of skill involved in crafting this tragic story from a wacky concept, not least because it hinges on making the hand vulnerable and lonely in a terrifying metropolis (without ever resorting to mawkish sentiment).
The puzzlebox mystery, with its flashbacks within flashbacks structure, works well for the majority of the running time. Only in the final 10 minutes, does it feel a tad messy and cluttered, in its bid to answer all our questions and join the dots. Still, Clapin and his team’s work is a triumph for hand-drawn animation in this era which favours computer design. For sure, it’s a guarantee you will be hooked by the hand’s mission to reattach itself to the owner and moved by its thoughtful meditation on the grieving process. An added ace is Dan Levy’s score, which perfectly complements the images with ethereal synth music and mooding electro beats.
I Lost My Body is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription, from 29th November 2019.