Film Review: I Lost My Body

Director and co-writer Jérémy Clapin’s feature debut I Lost My Body (J’ai Perdu Mon Corps) is a dark yet often moving story.

In a room in a hospital, a severed hand begins to move. The hand begins a quest to be reunited with its body, as the shape of a boy’s childhood begins to form…

A movie about a severed hand is a macabre premise for sure. On the surface, I Lost My Body (J’ai Perdu Mon Corps) does not sound like it will be moving. Yet, Clapin shrugs off initial expectations to create an engaging and sometimes emotional story. 

Directed and co-written by Jérémy Clapin (with Guillaume Laurant, writer of Amélie) the animated drama combines mystery and tragedy, with a dash of humour. The main strand of the hand attempting to cross the city to find its body is frequently interspersed with a series of flashbacks. These flashbacks tell the story of Naoufel from childhood to adolescence, although they do not always appear in chronological order.

This method of storytelling is very effective in retaining the audience’s attention. Drip feeding details of Naoufel’s life keeps viewers guessing as to the shift in his circumstances, and of course how he loses his hand. The story is a sad one, to say the least. Clapin and Laurant offer a bleak tale, with the story of a boy beset by tragedy. As the narrative progresses, it is clear that Naoufel is looking for belonging, even if he does not go the right way about it. The ending gives the perception that it will be very dark, but Clapin pulls back from this. The renewal of hope feels a little hurried, nevertheless the storytelling is wonderful.

Animation in I Lost My Body is fantastic. There is a nice contrast between the black and white, early years flashbacks, and the colourful, contemporary imagery. There is also a distinction in styles, with the pencil drawing-like images starkly different to the very realistic animation of the cityscapes. Clapin manages to make a severed hand emotive and sympathetic, which is not an easy feat.

I Lost My Body offers very skilful storytelling and superb animation. With his feature debut, Clapin has delivered an original and admirable film.

I Lost My Body (J’ai Perdu Mon Corps) is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2019.

Film Review: This Beautiful Fantastic

Simon Aboud’s sophomore picture This Beautiful Fantastic is amiable but forgettable. The film paints a twee picture, which provides decent escapism.

Bella Brown is a library assistant who dreams of being a children’s author. In her real life, she must contend with a cantankerous old neighbour and his dispute with her garden, whilst falling for a library patron…

Writer and director Simon Aboud produces a film which is heavy on the whimsy with This Beautiful Fantastic. Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie seems to have been an inspiration for the filmmaker, although this movie lacks the charisma of the 2001 film. That is not to say This Beautiful Fantastic is beyond redemption, but merely that it lacks impact.

Aboud’s film is easy watching. It is the sort of movie to watch on a rainy day; one that does not require any real investment. As such, it does the trick. Bella is an interesting enough protagonist. She is boundlessly twee, but warm enough to gain the audience’s sympathy. Alfie makes a good initial antagonist.

There are a number of strands at play in This Beautiful Fantastic, nearly all of which relate to Bella. There is the overarching theme of her desired career, which is paired with her mundane job and three main relationship strands. Some of these are more interesting than others. The burgeoning friendship between Bella and Alfie has some nice scenes. Nevertheless, the scenes with the protagonist and Billy are not as entertaining, probably because the latter is not fleshed out sufficiently. The scenes between Vernon and Alfie feature the film’s best dialogue.

Jessica Brown Findlay delivers a good performance as Bella, but it is Tom Wilkinson who really shines as Alfie. Andrew Scott and Jeremy Irvine are also decent in supporting roles. Aboud paints an old-fashioned portrait of North London with this film; it is pretty, but feels far removed from reality.

This Beautiful Fantastic is the perfect film for viewer who want short, sweet and non-comital viewing.

This Beautiful Fantastic will be available to watch on Digital Download from 5th March 2018 and can be bought here.