Monday, March 30, 2020

I Lost My Body: I Found A Masterpiece

By 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, and Naoufel falls for Gabrielle.

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

To break the routine and to be close to Gabrielle, Naoufel gets a job 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 tough existentialist 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 2001He also co-wrote A Very Long Engagement in 2004. Throughout a formal narrative, proper use of dialogs, and symbolism - in Laurant’s newest adaptation, viewers can get a sense of his innovative “freestyle poetry.”

“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 of the book. The auteur teamed up with Laurant to adapt 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 used that perspective to animate the inanimate.
I Lost My Body, The Hand. Photo courtesy Netflix ©2019
To give authenticity to their unique character and to the rest of the film, Chapin went through an immersive experience with different animation techniques: 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.


The stunning soundtrack composed by Dan Levy is cosmic, mystical, and whimsical. We perceive ambient sounds blending in with classic, electronic, ethnic, contemporary, French rap, and lullabies. Digging deeper, a fusion of Buddhist and Middle Eastern music identifies with every character and complements the film’s 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 and mixes different genres: action, drama, suspense, romance, and 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 of animated films can be considered existentialist, “Waking Life” 2001 and “A Scanner Darkly,” 2006; both films were directed by Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”). Salma Hayek’s production of Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” poems, 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, the COLCOA Audience Award, and the 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,” means declaring, “I lost myself.” 

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

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

“I Lost My Body” has plenty of excitement, evocative moments, thought-provoking questions, and hopes to remind us about our forgotten dreams when we were kids.

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

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