Monday, March 30, 2020

I Lost My Body: I Found An Animated Masterpiece

José Alberto Hermosillo
I Lost My Body, USA Poster. Photo courtesy Netflix ©2019
“I Lost My Body” is a hypnotic and poetic animated masterpiece. Remarkable, surreal, bold, and fantastique!

The non-linear narrative unfolds in two parallel and symbolic universes, the Body and the Hand, which intricately converge at the heart-rending moment of separation.

The two leading players must face their unique reality. Naoufel, the body, is searching for love. The Hand, with a mind of its own, is searching for its body. Both characters struggle with a sense of belonging, intermittent reminiscences of their tragic past, and a mysterious quest for what truly matters.
I Lost My Body, Gabrielle, and Naoufel. Photo courtesy Netflix ©2019
Working as a pizza delivery boy, Naoufel meets Gabrielle, a young librarian who leaves a lasting impression on him. This is the first occasion someone shows him a ray of affection. Naoufel falls for Gabrielle.

Gabrielle is a self-absorbed hard-working woman who looks after her old father, the owner of a carpentry shop, which is in danger of closing.

To break his uninflected routine and to be close to Gabrielle, Naoufel becomes employed at the older man’s shop, where his life will change forever.
I Lost My Body. Photo courtesy Netflix ©2019
“I Lost My Body” is an artistic representation of life, facing some serious existentialistic questions.

The sublime and intricate French production is an adaptation of Guillaume Laurant’s novel Happy Hand.

Jérémy Chapin, director and Guillaume Laurant, writer. I Lost My Body. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

Mr. Laurant received his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Amélie in 2001. He also co-wrote A Very Long Engagement in 2004. 

In Laurant’s newest collaboration, viewers can get a sense of his innovative “freestyle poetry” throughout his narrative, proper use of dialogs, and symbolism:

“That it must be peaceful to be cut off from the world like that. To see nothing... hear nothing...” Naoufel.

Jérémy Chapin, director of I Lost My Body. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

First-time director Jérémy Chapin took a modern approach to the narrative and structure from the book. The auteur teamed up with Mr. Laurant in adapting the script. Chapin’s style consists of making visible the invisible, which he masterfully achieves in "I Lost My Body."

Before filming, Chapin asked himself, "how do we make a hand a vibrant character?" He began by looking at his hand and discovered how to show the Hand's point-of-view, then he used that perspective to animate the inanimate.
I Lost My Body, The Hand. Photo courtesy Netflix ©2019
To give authenticity to such a unique character and to the rest of the film, Chapin went through an immersive experience with different techniques of animation: abstract hand drawings, computer-generated animation, and CGI imagery.

“I Lost My Body” is a psychological fiction reaching universality and addressing lost love, and other meaningful subjects.

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The stunning soundtrack composed by Dan Levy is cosmical, mystical, and whimsical. We perceive ambient sounds blending in with classic, electronic, ethnic, contemporary, French rap, and lullabies. Digging deeper, there is a fusion of Buddhist and Middle Eastern music that identifies with every character and complements the film's unique haunting atmosphere.

I Lost My Body, French poster. Netflix ©2019
After I saw the film, I was intrigued by the similarities with the crawling hand of the 1962 Mexican masterpiece “The Exterminating Angel/El ángel exterminador” by Luis Buñuel. I asked the director if he wanted to make a surreal piece of animation? He replied, "No. “I Lost My Body” is hard to place in a box... I avidly wanted to find what it means to be a human in the story." 

Chapin's experimental narrative explores different genres and mixes them all together; action, drama, suspense, romance, and even horror. The concept, bold and volatile, works perfectly.

I Lost My Body, Q&A. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

In recent years, only a handful number of animated films can be considered existentialist, “Waking Life,” 2001 and “A Scanner Darkly,” 2006; both films directed by Richard Linklater ("Boyhood"). Salma Hayek's production of Kahlil Gibran's poems “The Prophet,” 2014. “My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea,” 2016, and the Oscar-nominated Swiss-made stop-motion animation “My Life as a Zucchini” also from 2016.

This highly original European animation is set apart from Hollywood’s conventional narrative by exploring more daring subjects with a fresher approach. If "I Lost My Body" was Pixar, the Hand would be talking.
I Lost My Body, sign. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

“I Lost My Body” won numerous awards, becoming the first animated film to win the Critic’s Week Grand Prize at Cannes 2019, COLCOA Audience Award, and Best Feature Award at the Annecy Film Festival. It also won three Anny Awards, including Best Independent Animation, Best Music, and Best Writing. The film crowned its award season with a César Award, and an Oscar-nomination for Best Animated Feature.

To say, "I lost my body" is equal as declaring, "I lost myself." 

Symbolically speaking; in life, one is not only losing a part of the body but losing dreams, goals, jobs, friendships, parents, love, and hope.

A melancholic feeling permeates through the entire movie. In a society that continuously alienates individuals, and pushes them down to a complete state of emptiness, one must find a sense of belonging.

“I Lost My Body” has plenty of excitement, evocative moments, thought-provoking questions, and hopes to remind us about the forgotten dreams we had when we were kids.
Jérémy Chapin, director. Guillaume Laurant, writer. I Lost My Body. Film critic José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019
AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX, TV-MT. 81 MINS.

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Festival in LA ©2020

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