I Lost My Body (2019)

I didn't know what to expect when I sat down to watch I Lost My Body (French: J'ai perdu mon corps), one of the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Picture. My guess? That it'll be yet another solid film that doesn't stand a chance with the others. I couldn't have been more wrong as this French animated drama turned out to be a mesmerizing, touching and haunting journey about loneliness, loss, letting go and finding that part of ourselves that's missing.

As a child, Naoufel (voiced by Alphonse Arfi) dreamed of being both an astronaut and a pianist. However, when a tragic car accident takes away both of his parents, he finds himself living in Paris with his cold-hearted uncle and his sleazy cousin. Now an adult, Naoufel (voiced by Hakim Faris) pays his share of expenses by working as a pizza delivery boy but he's not very good at it — he never gets to his clients on time which is a huge deal since he works for a pizza place that gives free pizza if the delivery takes more than 30 minutes.

One rainy day, he arrives at a tower apartment after 40 minutes and ends up having an interesting conversation through the intercom with the young woman he was supposed to deliver the pizza to. Her name is Gabrielle (voiced by Victoire Du Bois), she is a librarian and Naoufel soon becomes obsessed with meeting her face-to-face.

In the meantime across town, a severed hand escapes from a laboratory and embarks on a journey through the streets of Paris to reconnect with its absent body.

As the story unfolds, it is very easy to figure out whose hand it is — a distinguishing mole above the index finger gives it away — but it doesn't make the realization any less painful or heartbreaking, and finding out how it got separated from its body and whether it will reunite with it make for an interesting and compelling journey.

This, however, is only a small part of the reason why I Lost My Body keeps you as hooked as it does. It's Jérémy Clapin's brilliant of telling part of the story from the hand's point of view and making an actual character out of it that really pulls you in — we are not just following a hand making its way through the dangerous streets of Paris, we are following a character with a purpose. While still acting and moving as a hand would do, relying on its fingers and palm to overcome the obstacles, it is intelligent and, although scared at times, brave; it has will and determination; it keeps fighting even when it doesn't seem to stand a chance. It moves as if it has feelings and memories from its past and it has such great characterization which makes it a very sympathetic character, one we care about and root for.

Naoufel, although not as striking, is quite an interesting character himself. Some have described him as a pathetic and creepy young man — and how to blame them? He basically stalks Gabrielle and then lies, lies and lies to get close(r) to her. And yet there's something sympathetic and likeable about this young man who's so used to being rejected that he thinks he can only make a good impression on Gabrielle by not being himself. But there's more, he is someone who wants to find out whether he has any ability to make his own choices, to live the life he wants despite what has been taken away from him.

The animation is another aspect of I Lost My Body that sticks with you long after the film ends. The hand-drawn animation is simply gorgeous, and the terrific use of colours really enhances the film's themes of loneliness and belonging while helping convey a sense of melancholy. The "camera work" also is very fascinating as it keeps chancing perspective throughout the film — sometimes we share the point of view of the hand or Naoufel's; sometimes we are just spectators; others we are a fly that keeps lurking around whenever something bad is about to happen. Whatever the case, it always makes for a very immersive experience.

The delightful electronic score by Dan Levy and the several hip-hop songs spread throughout the film fit both stories and the style of the animation incredibly well, making the film even more mesmerizing.

Ultimately, I Lost My Body is a terrific and poetic adult-oriented animated film with a moving and emotional story that urges you to find your true self and to let go of your baggage.


  1. I really liked this too. It's so original and I'm happy it got nominated.

    1. I'm actually rooting for it although I'm pretty sure it won't win.

  2. Looks promising. I will definitely try to check it out as I love French movies.