REVIEW: ‘I Lost My Body’ is an Animated Wonder

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I Lost My Body

Animation is still a form of film and television that many relegate to childhood. But with Netflix’s Bojack Horseman and Love, Death, & Robots or Amazon Studios’ Undonewe are seeing more and more examples of adult storytelling in the medium here in the west. As an anime fan, I have always appreciated and loved the deep and dark storytelling that animation can provide, but in the United States, it’s often looked down on, deemed childish, or thought to not be able to adequately capture more adult concepts. I Lost My Body continues to showcase the power of animation by weaving a disturbing, beautiful, and romantic tale in an hour and 20-minutes.

Written and directed by Jérémy Clapin with Guillaume Laurant sharing screenplay credits, the French animation I Lost My Body is an adaptation of Laurant’s novel Happy Hand. The film tells the story of Naofel (Dev Patel, English Dub), a young man who falls in love with a woman named Gabrielle (Alia Shawkat, English Dub). This story is remembered by a disembodied hand who has escaped a lab. The hand moves through Paris, it’s gutters and its streets, showcasing it’s dirt and grime and death all in the hope of returning to its body.

I Lost My Body

The animation is breathtaking. Hand-drawn and soulful, the colors are vibrant and the expressions hit you. Early on, the hand kills a pigeon and for some reason, it made me jump. The scrambling bird, crushing its eggs, thrashing to its death while the hand holds on for life. It’s unsettling if only because of the expression illustrated in the eyes of the bird. The animation also never once feels campy. We all remember Thing from The Addams Family. A sentient roaming severed hand moving through Paris could easily go that direction. Instead, there is an emotion to the faceless appendage. The way it tries to hold onto the floor as it skids in a can, the way it fights off rats in the subway. It’s somber and fantastical but never light, a feat to be commended.

While the Hand’s journey is a beautiful story, Naofel’s story is the heartthe starting point, and the end goal of the journey in I Lost My Body. He’s a young man from a broken family, a younger brother, a pizza delivery guy, and alone, until he meets Gabrielle while delivering a pizza. She lives on the 35th floor, he ruined her pizza, and the two bond as he waits to get back on his bike. Without getting any other information before he leaves, Naofel is stricken by her, looking through every Gabrielle in the phone book and even heading to her library.

Their awkward meet-cute is followed by a just as awkward chase as Naofel watches her from afar, too scared to interact but desperately wanting to. Gabrielle is, in many ways, the manic pixie dream girl of this story. When he meets her, she changes his life, he becomes a carpenter, he leaves home, and he becomes someone else. Hopelessly in love with Gabrielle, he lives his new life and we see their relationship develop, memories playing for us while his hand rushes back to him. Naofel shines not in his romance but in his selfishness, and Calpin and Laurant wonderfully capture the creepiness in his original approach to wooing Gabrielle.

In truth, as touching as the romance is, the Hand, Naofel’s severed hand is more tender, more emotional, and offers a break in a manic pixie story we’ve seen so many times in film. Its journey and how it moves us through Naofel’s life makes I Lost My Body stand out in a crowd of love stories. Additionally, the synthwave and rap tracks that pepper the film work to craft an atmosphere that isn’t always terrifying but instead adventurous as the Hand rushes to complete its quest. Additionally, the differing tones in the Hand’s part of the story and Naofel’s life provides a balance to the film.

As the film continues and you discover exactly how the hand became severed in the first place, the film begins to tie itself together. When the two halves of the story come together, they meet to showcase a lesson in patience, in life, and ultimately, the hand’s journey shows the audience everything that Naofel has lost throughout his life. It’s a crushing story, one that uses fantasy to accentuate life and showcase how we move past things we lose.

I Lost My Body is unquestionably beautiful. The voice work, even dubbed, is extremely well done, and the ebbs and flows of the story’s writing control a near-perfect pace. While the manic pixie trope is overplayed, this film uses it to subvert the concept. From narrative to visuals and score, I can’t recommend this film enough.

I Lost My Body is playing exclusively on Netflix.

I Lost My Body
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

I Lost My Body is unquestionably beautiful. The voice work, even dubbed, is extremely well done, and the ebbs and flows of the story’s writing control a near-perfect pace. While the manic pixie trope is overplayed, this film uses it to subvert the concept. From narrative to visuals and score, I can’t recommend this film enough.