Adapted from a novel penned by co-screenwriter Guillaume Laurant (Amélie), I Lost My Body is the feature debut of Jérémy Clapin, a man known for directing animated shorts with odd premises. One example of this is Skhizein (2008), in which a person who has been struck by a 150-ton meteorite has to adjust to living exactly 91 centimetres from himself.
I Lost My Body is also concerned with displacement in various ways. From the title, one might expect a story in the vein of David Lowery’s A Ghost Story (2017), with a phantasm dealing with (after)life after death. But while I Lost My Body has a similar melancholy tone, this curious blend of 2D and 3D animation techniques in fact focuses on a still very alive human and his also very alive dismembered hand.
Clapin and Laurant intertwine the story of a sentient hand, escaping morgue storage and journeying across Paris, and that of Naoufel, the young man who previously housed the hand, prior to his loss of it in an accident. As a child, Naoufel moved from Morocco to France after his parents died in a car accident, going to live with his indifferent uncle and cousin, his dreams gradually diminishing in the context of lonely city life.
While the enthralling film absolutely succeeds in making you care for a protagonist with only five digits to express itself (you’ll believe a hand can cry), what doesn’t always work fully is the Naoufel half of the narrative, purely due to one plot choice: the start to its love story involves him secretively following someone home and managing to gradually befriend them. While his behaviour’s eventually called out, that comes late enough in the film that your mileage may well vary as to the extent to which his actions receive appropriate consequences in what is admittedly a coming-of-age tale about getting one’s act together – the hand loss is not the consequence in question, to clarify. For a film in which a severed hand fights off monstrous rats, that story beat ends up being the creepiest part.