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.