I Lost My Body follows a disembodied hand as it seeks to reunite with its owner. At the same time, we see the story of Naoufel (Hakim Faris, Dev Patel) as he struggles with his loneliness and seeks a connection with Gabrielle (Victoire Du Bois, Alia Shawkat), a young woman he attempted to deliver a pizza to. It is based on a book by Guillaume Laurant who wrote Amélie and A Very Long Engagement, both films that combine whimsy with sly observations of human flaws very skillfully.
When I Lost My Body focuses on the hand, it is truly a delight to behold. Mostly known for kids’ shows and cheap productions, Xilam Animation took on a bigger project than usual with I Lost My Body and Jérémy Clapin and his team delivered brilliantly. Seeing the hand have to brave not only the elements, but pets, pests and humans is simple, effective visual storytelling at its best. Clapin and his animation team must have run through hundreds of scenarios to think about how a hand would navigate even the most mundane of terrains since every environment would be hostile to it. Even though a hand devoid of any form of emotion may seem impossible to identify with, much less root for, we end up doing so. We can cheer for its ingenuity as it hangs onto an umbrella, which allows it to float over the city, or when it uses a lighter to fend off some aggressive rats. There is also a pulsing, brilliant score by The Dø to complement the hand’s hero’s journey.
When the film focuses on Naoufel and his attempts to alleviate his loneliness, the film becomes significantly less interesting. Naoufel is a typically mopey young man who has a hard time connecting to other people because of his awkwardness. Predictably, he tries to find solace for his loneliness in Gabrielle, who is essentially a manic pixie dream girl. To the story’s credit, Gabrielle is quite unsentimental and refreshingly blunt towards Naoufel. Also, the film does not shy away from portraying Naoufel in an unflattering manner. He could possibly be called an incel, but we also learn enough about him to know that he’s not whining unnecessarily. Yet his storyline never quite rises above cliche. Audiences have seen this story in countless, mediocre indie romances that plagued the first decade of the 21st century.
Most of the intrigue of Naoufel’s storyline is to see how his narrative and the hand’s narrative connect. Yet once that connection is resolved, the result is underwhelming to say the least. The hand’s journey is so dramatic and exciting that it had no hope of ever reconciling with the introvertedness and melancholy of Naoufel’s storyline. In fact, the two resolutions work counter to each other, especially since the hand has miraculously become a character that the audience can easily empathize with to the point that the hand is a better character than Naoufel. Ultimately, I Lost My Body is a delightful, brilliant short film with about 40 extra minutes of a less interesting story interrupting it.