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  • Cole Delaney

I Lost My Body (2019)

On Second Thought - Feature Review

I've never been so aware of my hand.

I Lost My Body or J'ai perdu mon corps, is one of my favourite animated features to come out in recent years. It’s quiet, unnerving, but this rich, all encompassing journey that demands you attention as it weaves through story beats. Directed by Jérémy Clapin, and animated in France.

There's two distinct stories occurring here: a severed hand trying to return to it's body, and all the dangers that face it as it seeks to return to the safety of home, and an orphan, Naoufel, who is trying to make his way in the world, finding love, a job and all the revelations that come with that.

The feature is animated in CG software Blender, using both the CG elements and also traditional elements overlaying lines with the Grease pencil tool in Blender. I think it gives I Lost My Body a really unique look at feel, without sacrificing a creative design. The real joy for me with I Lost My Body is the cinematography. I can't say this enough, that they team really understand how to use a camera, and how to frame things. I think a lot of this comes from the ability in CG to quickly compose a shot and change at will without losing a volume. It also adds the ability to create dramatic lighting and textures. While the traditional use of lines allows to exaggerate expressions and create subtle emotions and details.

I'd be remised not to mention the score by Dan Levy, which is in equal parts, both melancholic while also adventurous. Combining the two main dreams of Naoufel, Pianist and Astronaut, with the harsh world built up around his location. It perfectly captures the grand exploration of the hand while winding toward the inevitable sadness of how did it lose it's body.

I think there's a feel to French Animation, but it's not a unified style or aesthetic, but more the interesting way French filmmakers approach a narrative, in this unique, deconstructing way. It is possibly due to the rich history of French cinema approaching storytelling with the same vigour. They've resisted the allure of Hollywood narratives, but rather take them, chew on it a while, and offer something totally unique.

This is exactly what I Lost My Body does. Witnessing the narrative of a hand, severed from the safety of it's body, like a child without a parent, it seeks to return to the comfort of that safety. While that is weaved with Naoufel's story, as he traverses the world without that safety too, trying to live a regular life, but ultimately is still subject to his binding destiny of losing parents, losing safety and losing a hand. It's so unusual to think "oh it's a film about a hand trying to get back to it's body", but the deep metaphors that exist there, as well as the perfect balance struck between each story sucked me in. Here's where animation offers that great realm to explore complicated themes in whatever visual way you'd like.

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