“I Lost My Body” is the year’s most abstract animated feature. And at just 80 minutes, it packs-in as much as depth and emotion as the longer, much more commercial “Toy Story 4”.
This story, based on a 2006 book by Guillaume Laurant, is told from the POV of a human hand that’s been separated from its owner. The hand goes on a mission to reunite with Naoufel, a pizza delivery boy (voiced in the English-language version by Dev Patel). How and why Naoufel’s hand was severed is not divulged until late in the film. French Director Jeremy Clapin uses a multi-layered narrative to tell this mesmerizing tale. The fewer details you know beforehand the better.
If you’re a bit skeptical about “I Lost My Body’, don’t be. It only takes a few minutes to comprehend and accept the concept, which then grabs you and doesn’t let go.
Clapin spent years crafting this script, which he co-wrote with Laurant. Their efforts pay off with a unique, thought-intensive drama. Naoufel is struggling to deal with his past. A chance meeting with a young woman leads to one of 2019’s most interesting movie relationships. Their initial conversation, over the intercom of her apartment building where Naoufel’s delivering a pizza, is perfectly written and executed.
The hand-drawn animation style (which shifts from color to black-and-white in key moments) is impressive. And the sound design, especially in scenes in which the hand interacts with pigeons and rats on city streets, is extraordinary.
“I Lost My Body” is mysterious and unique, with so much to say about life, love and fate. My mind did occasionally get a little lost in it all. But everything (literally) comes together in the last 10 minutes. The final sequence left me breathless.
Nearly every year, a foreign/indie entry is a finalist in the major Best Animated Feature competitions. But rarely are they a serious contender for the top prize. With a bold vision and confident execution, “I Lost My Body” may just be the one holding all the statues this awards season.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “I Lost My Body” gets an A-.
Running Time: 81 min.