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.

BFI London Film Festival 2019 Launch

This morning saw the launch of the BFI London Film Festival 2019. In its 63rd year, the festival is screening 229 feature films, including 28 world premieres. Here are some highlights from the festival programme…

Headline Galas

The opening and closing films for the BFI London Film Festival 2019 had already been announced. The festival opens with the European premiere of Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield. An adaptation of the Dickens’ classic, the film stars Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, and Hugh Laurie. Martin Scorsese‘s hotly-anticipated The Irishman closes the festival. There is an embarrassment of riches among the other headline galas, including Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, Marielle Heller’s (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, and Michael Winterbottom’s Greed, starring Steve Coogan and Isla Fisher.

Strand Galas and Special Presentations

This year, films screening as part of the Strand Galas include Robert Eggers’ (The Witch) The Lighthouse, starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. The Dare Gala is Mirrah Folks’ debut feature Judy & Punch, a fairy tale starring Mia Wasikowska. Among the Special Presentations are Takashi Miike’s First Love, and Bombay Rose, a hand-drawn animated feature from Gitanjali Rao.

Official Competition

Among the ten features in Official Competition at the London Film Festival 2019 are Haifaa Al-Mansour’s (Wadjda) The Perfect Candidate, about a young doctor who challenges Saudi Arabia’s strict social codes. Thomas Clay’s Fanny Lye Deliver’d stars Maxine Peake and Charles Dance, and is about a woman living with her puritanical husband in 17th century Shropshire. The Documentary Competition features Rubika Shah’s White Riot, about the Rock Against Racism movement, and Lauren Greenfield The Kingmaker, which focuses on Imelda Marcos. The First Feature Competition includes Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco and Shannon Murphy’s Babyteeth, a drama starring Eliza Scanlon and Ben Mendelsohn.

Strands

The eleven thematic programme strands are back once more at the London Film Festival 2019. The Love strand includes La Belle Époque, Nicolas Bedos’ drama about an illustrator who uses technology to replay the past, and Ga-young Jeong’s Heart. The Debate strand is particularly strong this year with Citizen K (Alex Gibney‘s documentary on Mikhail Khodorkovsky), Chinonye Chukwu’s Sundance winner Clemency, Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life, and Scott Z Burns’ The Report, starring Adam Driver. Comedies in the Laugh strand includes Billie Piper’s directorial debut Rare Beasts, whilst Wash Westmoreland’s Earthquake Bird in the Thrill strand stars Alicia Vikander in an 1980s Tokyo-set thriller. Cannes winner The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão is among the films in the Journey category.

The Dare strand features animated coming-of-age tale I Lost My Body and Václav Marhoul’s The Painted Bird, about a Jewish boy on a journey home during wartime. The Cult strand includes Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s The Lodge and Lorcan Finnegan’s Vivarium, with Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots. Also in this category is Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space, a HP Lovecraft adaptation starring Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson. The Experimenta strand includes Brad Butler and Noorafshan Mizra’s Ruptures, whilst Create includes Midge Costin’s documentary Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound. Two highlights of the Family strand are Edmunds Jansons’ Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs and Lorenzo Mattotti’s The Bears’ Famous Invasion. Finally, classics that are showing as part of the Treasures programme include David Lynch’s The Elephant Man and Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death, starring Vincent Price.

The BFI London Film Festival 2019 runs from 2nd-13th October. The full programme can be viewed here.