A whimsical journey in self-discovery (2019)
I Lost My Body, the English version of J’ai perdu mon corps. It is a French adult animated drama fantasy film directed by Jérémy Clapin in 2019. It was first seen in the International Critics’ Week section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and it won the Nespresso Grand Prize.
Cast: Hakim Fares plays the role of Nawfel. Victoire du Bois performs the role of Gabrielle and Patrick d’Assumacao acts as Gigi.
Main characters: The main characters of the film are Nawfel, a Marrocan boy living in France. Gabrielle, a delicate young woman who is working as a librarian. Gigi, Gabrielle’s uncle.
Synopsis: The film tells the story of both Nawfel and a cut-off hand. The story of Nawfel, a young man who falls in love with Gabrielle. How does he fall in love with her? What kind of ending for this love story? We need to watch the film to have our questions answered.
Somewhere else, there is a severed hand that escapes from a laboratory to find the body to which it belongs.
Plot: The film opens with a man lying on the floor looking weary as if he has not slept for so long and a bug that is flying around.
As we keep watching, we realise that this man is Nawfel, the young boy who aspires to be a pianist and astronaut.
A surrealistic and fantastic scene appears where we find bunch of eyes and a severed hand in the fridge. The moving hand is trying to find its way out of the dissection lab. The question that comes to our mind is; whose hand it is. Throughout the movie, we keep following the hand in its quest for its lost body.
As he grows up, Nawfel becomes a delivery man for ”Pizza Fast”. He falls in love with one of his clients, named Gabrielle. Not having the audacity to tell her about his feelings, he tracks her to her place of work. Finding an old ad in the wood working shop of her uncle, Nawfel feigns to be an apprentice who is looking for a job just to be close to Gab. As he gets the job, they become friends.
He doesn’t tell her about their first meeting, Naoufel takes her to the rooftops, where they discuss fate. Naoufel shows her the igloo he built and reveals that they had met before when he delivered pizza. She is disappointed and leaves in a rage. The next morning, while cutting wood, Naoufel is distracted by a fly and tries to catch it, snagging his watch on the blade and cutting his hand.
Then, the hand’s journey comes to an end when reaching Naoufel. Yet, it fails to re-attach itself. Naoufel, upset and hopeless, regain his old tape recorder which reminds him of the fatal car ride that killed his parents. Looking for him, Gabrielle finds Naoufel’s tape recorder and learns he had leapt off the ledge and onto the crane as he had once discussed.
After making the jump, Naoufel lies in the crane and smiles to himself as he looks out at the city. His severed hand retreats into the snow.
Jérémy Clapin wants to draw our attention to many themes. First, it is man’s quest for self discovery. Both of Nawfel and the hand are on a perpetual journey to find their second parts in order to reach their essence. Nawfel is first portrayed as a hopeless and lethargic delivery man who is not satisfied with what he is doing. He, then, becomes more optimistic and happier when he meets Gabrielle who has given sense to his life and completed the missed part of the jigsaw puzzle. The cut off hand shares the same mission with the protagonist. Throughout the movie, it is determined to reach its body. It will face all kinds of threats across the city from the scene with rats under a subway train to speeding traffic.
The screenwriter takles the theme of fate. Nawfel asks Gab when they were on the roof of the building : ”Do you believe in fate ?”
She answers: ”As if everything is written in advance but in a linear way and that we can never change.”
He adds: ”We think we can but no. It is an illusion. We can’t predict what shall happen.”
In the first scene, the young Nawfel asks his father: ”What shall I do to catch a fly?”
The father answers that he should not target the place where the bug stands but instead he should target the place next to it.
In other words, the film encourages us to think philosophically. Throughout the film, nawfel asks existential questions about the meaning of life after series of tragic accidents like the death of his parents and the cutting of his hand. Attacked by hungry rats in the subway and crossing eight lanes of traffic on an umbrella, the hand encounters a similar fate as Nawfel.
Techniques of the film: The screenwriter used several techniques to make his film exceptional such as imagery, symbolism and flashbacks.
Clapin compares the fly to life as both are running away from Man who is always in a perpetual chase to catch up life and its running moments.
Another important metaphor which is worth to mention is that of the body. It reminds us of the New Testament in which Paul compares christians to different parts of the body so that all of them create the whole. No part is more important than the other. From this biblical context, the film criticizes the individualistic way of modern life and people’s alienation. That’s to say, each one needs to find its second half and live in an emotional atmosphere to reach its essence, humanity. For this reason Nawfel only finds happiness and serenity when he falls in love.
Last but not least, I Lost My Body is a story about past trauma and the way to overcome it. It’s an amazing animated movie that leaves the viewer with a sense of loss and recovery at the same time. Watching it is a very extraordinary experience that would give more sense to one’s life.
BY Ameera MASROUR