Dir: Jeremy Clapin. France, Animation 81′
Jeremy’s Clapin’s debut is a touching and lyrical love letter to loss that delicately captures the human condition.
Almost the best thing about I Lost My Body is the way its remains ambiguous – like life itself. Bringing to mind My Life As a Courgette: hopes and aspirations are cleverly woven into a storyline that explores a young man’s unexpected yet triumphant voyage of self discovery.
Jeremy Clapin’s film does require a leap of faith: it all starts with a severed hand (rendered in 2D and 3D) driven desperately to find its body in a peripatetic journey through present day Paris. Meanwhile, the hand’s owner experiences his own trials and tribulations leading up to moment the two are parted. I Lost My Body will appeal to adults and children alike – and whether or not animation is your bag, it certainly captured the imagination of audiences and juries on this year’s international festival circuit.
In a childlike but never childish way, Clapin and his co-writer Guillaume Laurant, whose script is based on the Amelie BAFTA winner’s book Happy Hand, picture the world from an inquisitive kid’s perspective, full of wonderment, birds and insects; but also one that acknowledges consumer bleats familiar in to adults: the pizza guy who arrives late, that intercom buzzer that never opens the door the first time. Crucially, I Lost My Body is also a meditative and often surreal experience.
A creative boy called Naoufel (Alfonso Arfi) grows up with his talented parents, who soon recede into the background leaving him directionless and reliant on a badass acquaintance called Raouf. Naoufel’s only possession is a prized tape-machine full of recordings – and his parent’s voices. Growing up (voiced by Hakim Fares) Naoufel relinquishes his dream to become an astronaut, settling for an earthbound existence delivering pizzas. He meets the woman of his dreams while chatting to uer through her dodgy apartment intercom; he then follows Gabrielle (Victoire Du Bois) to her uncle Gigi’s joinery workshop where he is offered bed and board as an apprentice, and has a transformative accident.
Clapin brings his narrative strands together with dextrous imagery; grains of sand slip between fingers as the world revolves in time and space nurturing Naoufel’s astronaut pretensions. We are gradually captivated by Naoufel’s own romantic imagination and his desire to do his best for Gigi, and capture Gabrielle’s heart. But his flatmate Raouf also has designs on his fledgling paramour. And although Naoufel eventually loses a part of himself, he never loses his faith or courage in following his dream. Accompanied by atmospheric sound design and beautifully rendered animations, this mournful riff on life, love and self-determination is a deeply affecting experience. MT
ON RELEASE FROM 22 NOVEMBER 2019 | Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prize 2019