Thursday, December 19, 2019

Movie with Abe: I Lost My Body

I Lost My Body
Directed by Jérémy Clapin
Released November 15, 2019

There is a space in between genres which allows science fiction, fantasy, or horror elements that need not be explained but contribute to the story in a way that isn’t questioned. How something is happening isn’t important even if it defies logic, whereas the why might be far more crucial since it can guide characters in the right direction towards some discovery about themselves. In some cases, both why and how don’t matter since it’s merely a creative device used to evoke emotion and provoke thought in the telling of a story enhanced by this mysteriously existent phenomenon.

A severed hand moves around all by itself, wandering towards familiar sounds and places, holding on to coat hangers and umbrellas to travel long distances and ambulating a short way with simple crawls and hops. As the hand searches for the body to which it no longer belongs, Naoufel (Hakim Faris) is introduced as an unimpressive pizza deliverer who has a penchant for being late and forcing his employer to give the pizza away for free. When Naoufel finds his pizza ruined through no fault of his own, he meets its intended recipient, Gabrielle (Victoire Du Bois), over the intercom, and finds himself unable to get her out of his head, prompting him to take an apprenticeship with her uncle as an excuse to get to know her.

This film is undeniably bizarre in its concept, but largely because the fact that this hand is able to function essentially as a body of its own is never addressed, it actually works. It’s intriguing enough at the start, and once Naoufel appears on screen and begins his quest to learn more about the mystery woman on the other end of the intercom who talks to him even after he refuses to take much blame for the pizza being both late and ruined, it continues down a fascinating road. It’s not as if there are any big reveals in store either for the hand or for Naoufel, but instead that the journey there is introspective and beautiful to watch, solemn and intimate rather than in search of any particular end.

There’s no question that animation was the right way to stage this idea, if only because the sight of a live-action severed hand would have been sufficiently disturbing. Its groundbreaking prize win at the Cannes Film Festival and subsequent distribution on Netflix are a tribute to its strength as an experimental film, one that works well because of its simplicity and warmth. Naoufel is hardly a flawless character, yet he’s a sympathetic protagonist in this wonderful film that features a beautiful original score. It may not be for everyone, but it’s truly rewarding for those who choose to explore it.


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