Directed by Jérémy Clapin and co-written with Guillaume Laurant, who wrote the 2006 novel that it’s based on called ‘Happy Hand’ and also co-wrote French modern classic Amélie. A story of Naoufel, a young man who is in love with Gabrielle, in another part of town, a severed hand escapes from a dissection lab, determined to find its body again. Starring: Hakim Faris, Victoire Du Bois, Patrick d’Assumçao, Alfonso Arfi, Hichem Mesbah, Myriam Loucif and Bellamine Abdelmalek.
Creating an animated film that explores entirely emotional themes and works for, almost, all ages is both extremely delicate and difficult, and becoming much more common after films like My Life as a Courgette and The Breadwinner have paved the way for a new generation. I Lost My Body tells a story of two parts, one of a lost hand determined to return to its owner and one of a young boy full of potential who has his life ripped out from under him when his parents die in a car accident. Now working as a delivery driver, a fateful intercom provides a meeting for Naoufel (Faris) and Gabrielle (Du Bois), while they never see each other, there’s an instant connection, that Naoufel seeks to explore. His methods aren’t exactly perfect, they could be considered a little bit stalkerish but he’s a sweet guy with only good intentions. The more surprising elements of the story come from the hand’s perilous expedition, it is far from smooth sailing and provides for some edge of your seat, close call moments.
There’s a quality to the animation that has an old fashioned elegance to it, while retaining that sense of being fresh and modern, it’s an enchanting combination. Adding that to the direction, editing and score, they come together to create something highly sentimental but adds enough elements of darkness to stop it from ever becoming mawkish. There’s a poetic rhythm to it, it invests time in exploring the natural sounds of a city, the sights and how much they can change when you alter your perspective, it’s extremely creative and holds a sincere curiosity.
The voice acting leaves no room for complaint, there’s so little to say about it because it fits so well with each character, especially its lead. Faris’ performance as Naoufel is captivating, it’s a little bit naïve but filled with melancholy and a growing glimmer of hope once Gabrielle comes onto the scene. His voice mixed with the overall style of the film has an incredibly palpable sadness, love and loss are the principal themes of the film and they both come through strongly in a way that’s heart-breaking and honest.
A couple of issues arise, the story is relatively predictable and most likely will end a few minutes before people want it to for a more satisfying resolution, it’s more about the emotional journey of its singular ending moment, which may not work for everyone. However, entirely ignoring those things, it’s an extremely touching story, that holds a lot of hope while being drenched in sadness and grief, presented in a very creative animated package. It feels as though this could have been a difficult novel to adapt for the screen and that they’ve captured a better version than anyone could have hoped for. If it hadn’t been for going up against the Disney-Pixar giant Toy Story 4, it would have most certainly won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature this year, and realistically, should have anyway.