I sat down to watch I Lost My Body and I had no idea what I was in store for. All I knew was this film was animated and it had one unique feature, it is the journey of a hand, which has lost its body.
It’s a fascinating story of Naofel (Dev Patel) and his hand. They’ve been separated and as the film goes through its 81-minute runtime the hand is trying its hardest to get back home. Along the way, you learn about Naofel and what lead to the separation.
I Lost My Body gained the upper hand
On face value, you may see this as a weird short film elongated to almost feature film length but I can tell you right now what you get is surprisingly emotional and contemplative look at the state people can find themselves when they hit adversary in their lives.
The melancholy of the film is palpable. You can see it in how scenes are animated. There are deliberate choices in how scenes are coloured. For example, the film is told through a large portion in flashbacks and the more bittersweet memories are shown in black and white and it is potent.
Director Jérémy Clapin has a deft hand at helping his audience empathise with his protagonist as the lead in I Lost My Body is a hand. There are moments where you worry about the safety of this appendage and it’s all about how the peril is set up.
There is one scene where the hand gets stuck in a tomato soup can and as it falls down an escalator droplets of a red hue are coming out of the can and you’re not sure if it’s tomato soup or blood. A few minutes later there is a life or death encounter with a group of rats and it’s impressively animated.
It is this escalation of the mundane that helps give this manic tale its own unique sense of identity.
Everyone is hands on deck
Another element that I Lost My Body nails is its intimate cast. There is Naofel, his hand, and Gabrielle (Alia Shawkat) who is the driving force for Naofel in his section of the film. He meets her during one of his mundane days and their chance encounter changes him for the better.
It’s interesting and though Gabrielle doesn’t have as much screentime as I’d have liked Shawkat brought her signature style to the role. I will say there are some characters that are unimpressive, the acting is nothing special but these characters are really just show dressing to fill out the world.
There is also the sadly clichéd third act twist that I’d hoped I Lost My Body could have avoided. To talk about it would spoil the third act but as the plot progresses and Naofel makes certain choices in his journey you will see the inevitable result. It’s nothing especially original which detracted from the film for more.
I Lost My Body is a dab hand in subtle storytelling
In the end, I adored I Lost My Body. I didn’t realise it until the end but I was learning a lesson. This lesson is one that I think people need to learn again every couple of years because after a while we all lapse into a routine and may be happy with our lot in life even if it’s not all that great. I Lost My Body showed me that you can fight against fate and it left me with a smile on my face a sliver of a tear running down my cheek.