I Lost My Body (4 stars)

I Lost My Body

Exquisitely crafted French animation following a severed hand on its remarkable journey

'The death of a beloved is an amputation,' wrote CS Lewis in A Grief Observed, which he penned following the passing of his wife, fellow writer Joy Davidman. Jérémy Clapin's Cannes Critics' Week Grand Prix-winning animation, adapted from Guillaume Laurant's book Happy Hand by Laurant and Clapin, explores that metaphor by following a severed hand named Rosalie as she tries to make her way back to her owner Naoufel (voiced by Hakim Faris) in Paris.

Rosalie traverses dirty metro tunnels, doing bloody battle with rats, and even lands in an apartment where she comforts a baby. Rosalie's journey is marked by brutality and tenderness and Clapin creatively utilises silent slapstick comedy, juxtaposing it against depictions of vicious nature that evoke Martin Rosen's Watership Down in the grislier moments. Pizza delivery guy Naoufel lives with his uncle in a cramped apartment, and longs for happier days. When he meets librarian Gabrielle (Victoire Du Bois), via an inspired intercom interaction, his heart swells and his aspirations change. His existential woe and separation anxiety morph into enthusiasm for knowledge and adventure.

A combination of hand-drawn, 3D and rotoscope animation brings this thrilling and melancholic story to life. Throughout, Clapin capably switches between two perspectives that gradually converge in the past as Rosalie and Naoufel recall distant childhood memories. The sound design is ingeniously married with dark and often poetic images and the intoxicating electronic score by Dan Levy has traces of John Carpenter in its DNA.

Exquisitely crafted and confronting on multiple levels, I Lost My Body has much in common with a Studio Ghibli production, as it powerfully laments lost potential and dislocation from the warm hearth of home. It particularly recalls 2016's European and Japanese collaboration The Red Turtle, by Michaël Dudok de Wit, which struck similarly poignant notes despite its deceptively simple presentation.

Selected release from Fri 22 Nov. Available on Netflix from Fri 29 Nov.

I Lost My Body

  • 4 stars
  • 2019
  • France
  • 1h 21min
  • Directed by: Jérémy Clapin
  • Cast: Hakim Faris, Victoire Du Bois, Patrick d'Assumçao

Animated film about a severed hand named Rosalie that traverses its way across Paris to get back to her owner, lonely pizza delivery guy Naoufel (Faris). A thrilling and melancholic story creatively using silent slapstick comedy and depictions of vicious nature; poignant and exquisitely crafted.