Cannes 2019: Jérémy Clapin's Beautiful Animated Film 'I Lost My Body'
by Alex Billington
May 19, 2019
I genuinely love animation and I always enjoy catching every new animated film, wherever they may come from, however they may be made. I Lost My Body, also known as J'ai perdu mon corps, is a charming new French animated film directed by Jérémy Clapin about a missing hand. This first premiered in the Critics' Week sidebar at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and it's wonderful. Really wonderful. One of the most imaginative, ambitious, and touching animated films of the year - there's no debate. It's unconventional and unique, but so easy to enjoy and fall deeply into, even if it is just a bit creepy at times. I'm so glad I caught this film in Cannes, as it's a smaller one and animation usually gets brushed aside at this festival. But this deserves our attention, and the acclaim, as it's a truly beautiful film and a one-of-a-kind animation creation.
Clapin's I Lost My Body, also known as just Grab (the international title), has two storylines that play out simultaneously in the film. One follows a chopped off hand that somehow comes alive and runs around the streets of Paris, trying to get back to its original body. It doesn't talk, it only can move, and crawls its way from a lab through the streets and all over to find where it came from. The other storyline introduces us to the body, a boy known as Naoufel, who tragically lost his parents when he was a kid. His life has fallen apart and he's struggled to find any success, hold down a job, or meet anyone of interest. Oddly, but satisfyingly, there is no explanation as for how or why this hand can move - it's not a horror film and it doesn't need to explain the details. The focus is on the love story, when Naoufel randomly meets a woman named Gabrielle.
There is a bit of creepiness to it, as Naoufel follows Gabrielle around and pretends not to know her - taking a job at her uncle's woodworking shop. Despite this, there's a very sweet side to it. He's lived such a tragic and lonely life, and he is incredibly shy, so talking to her is nearly impossible. And the story plays out accurately - when she finds out, she is pissed off and doesn't just suddenly come back to him. The film is really about Naoufel's life, and we learn so much about why he is the way he is… It's very moving and quite sad to see his story. He's just a lonely boy looking for someone to love, and he finds her, but doesn't know how to get her interested. Sometimes we need to take a leap in life, and ultimately that's the message passed on here. And it teaches us that in a deeply satisfying and encouraging way, that will stick with you well after it's finished.
Above all, the animation here is spectacular. It's an ambitious film - there's one particular scene where the hand falls down into the subway, then gets attacked by rats, then grabs onto a wire underneath a train car, then flies into the next station and figures out a way to get out. And they thought sure, we can animate this and make it look beautiful in a sharp, clean, hand-drawn style. I've never seen this kind of visual style before and it looks gorgeous. The voice acting, by Hakim Faris and Victoire Du Bois, is also exceptionally good. This is an R-rated film, with blood and curse words, and their emotions are genuine. My favorite part of the film is the score, by Dan Levy. I adore this score, it's as unique and memorable as the film, and provides the emotional base that makes this animated feature so touching. I will be listening to it many more times.
Alex's Cannes 2019 Rating: 9 out of 10
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