One of the benefits of streaming services, and the internet in general, is that they’ve opened the door for animation from all over the world.
Growing up, the only foreign animation I watched was anime, thanks to Toonami and Adult Swim. Now it’s easier than ever to watch international animated films from countries like Ireland, China, Czech Republic, or in this case, France. French animation has been growing in popularity in the United States, most famously with the comic book adaptation Persepolis. Over the last decade, French animation has been making waves in the U.S., with films such as A Cat in Paris, April and the Extraordinary World, and The Red Turtle receiving critical acclaim. I Lost My Body follows this tradition of excellent French animation, with a beautifully raw animation style to match its intense story.
The debut film of writer/director Jérémy Clapin, is split into two intertwining narratives. One features Naoufel (Hakim Faris), whose journey to find a mysterious woman through his delivery route leads him to an apprenticeship as a carpenter. The other features a severed hand that escapes a lab and embarks on a quest to find its body. The severed hand’s trek excellently parallels Naoufel’s journey. As the hand travels through the natural and urban landscape, its obstacles reflect Naoufel’s pent-up frustration and yearnings. Even the hand’s quiet moments are used effectively, to reflect Naoufel’s true desires and childhood memories of happier times.
I Lost My Body‘s rough animation style, with its scratches and edges, gives the film texture. Its use color and motion reflects Naoufel’s conflicted, burnt out, mindset. The irregular tempo of the animation enhances the sense of a recalled, but spotty memory, with clearly defined emotion behind the imagery. Even the sound design builds on the gritty atmosphere, as each scratch and slash is vividly captured.
This film is a tapestry of emotion. Every moment, whether still or in motion, evokes a wide range of conflicting feelings, anxieties, and aspirations. It shows how animation of the setting itself, coupled with the right music and sound design, emphasizes a character’s perspective. That’s really what makes animated films so much fun; Jérémy Clapin clearly enjoyed his creative freedom building a world of emotion for his characters. I Lost My Body is an excellent animated film and a perfect jumping-on point for the unique world of French animation. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more from Jérémy Clapin soon.
I Lost My Body is currently streaming on Netflix.