With some spectacular seasonal Christmas fantasy-dramas like ‘The Knight Before Christmas’ and some Oscar-worthy blockbusters like ‘The Irishman’, Netflix has been on a roll lately. But another thing about the streaming giant that never really fails to impress me is its vast catalog of some brilliant foreign films. Just about a week ago, I reviewed a French film, titled ‘Mon Frère’, and expressed how I was truly blown away by its moving didactic themes. And now, after watching another recent animated French drama ‘I Lost My Body, I can’t help but fall in love with the variety that the French Cinema offers.
Directed by Jérémy Clapin, ‘I Lost My Body’ is based on a novel named Happy Hands which has been written by Guillaume Laurant. It follows the tale of a dismembered hand that somehow breaks free from its entrapment in a medical facility and then sets out on a perilous journey to seek its owner. With a strong determination to be where it truly belongs, the hand walks through some of the bleakest corners of the city of Paris. But its strong will keeps it going. While the hand embarks on this eye-opening adventure, it also reminisces all the time that it had once spent with its owner—Naoufel.
With this, the film appends another layer to its narrative by shedding light on Naoufel’s life and all the incidents that led to a freak of an accident where he lost his hand. Tracing back to all the days of his childhood when he became a mere victim of his own circumstances, the film tries to project how, even after growing up, he fails to escape the fate that has been destined for him. But after a chance encounter with a young girl named Gabrielle, his faith in life is somehow restored, and with his new sense of purpose, he tries to turn his life around. But at the end of the day, he is bounded by his destiny and acceptance is his only escape from his doomed existence.
All the flashbacks in ‘I Lost My Body’ are wrung with dull shades of black and white which contrasts them from its present events. Though its narrative often feels a bit too uneven and is intentionally presented with a kaleidoscopic view, it keeps you interested throughout with its intriguing philosophical notions and themes. While the film has been divided into two separate storylines that parallelly unfold themselves, very subtly, somewhere near the conclusion, both of these come in tandem with one another. Apart from having a riveting overarching plot, ‘I Lost My Body’ is also segregated into several subplots that serve as complots for the overall story.
The whole idea of having dismembered hand as a protagonist sounds bizarrely comical. But without enforcing any goofy humanly physical traits on it, the film magically creates a character out of it. The hand projects a beautifully haunting body language which depicts how it is dealing with the grief of being separated from a loved one. Even its visuals—especially the scenes that project the personality of the hand—have intricate immersive details that make you empathize with it.
Moreover, even the other main protagonist, Naoufel, is portrayed as a very complex character. But as we start soaring back to all the tragedies of his past, his actions and his lack of a sense of purpose starts to make sense. Almost all the other characters—especially Gabrielle—are delineated as riddles, and as a viewer, you are forced to form your opinions about them.
Overall, ‘I Lost My Soul’ is, by far, one of the most peculiar and imaginative films of the year. And though, at times, it is slightly hindered by the clichèd romance that it brings in for a while, its eloquent expression of the most thought-provoking and moving themes create a melancholic yet disturbing experience for viewers. ‘I Lost My Body’, with its dreamy exploration of the uncertainties of life, is indeed going to win a lot of hearts and it is certainly a must-watch for anyone who is into thematically complex animated films like ‘The Waking Life’ and ‘Your Name.’