‘J’ai Perdu Mon Corps’ or ‘I Lost My Body’ is a French animated feature film that was released in November 2019. It was directed by Jérémy Clapin. An adaptation of the book “Happy Hand” by Guillaume Laurant, this animated film also became the first to take the centre stage at the Critics’ section of the Cannes Film Festival.
In the opening scene of the film, we find the protagonist, Noufel, drenched in his own blood, lying across his severed hand on the floor. From this scene onwards, we see Noufel’s life unfold through the slowly bridging gap between the lost hand and its journey to associate itself with its host or the body.
The story is given a multifaceted narrative through Naoufel. He’s first seen as a child in Morocco, laughing in the company of his parents, capturing the sounds of his world on a beloved cassette-recorder, who, later in the story, finds himself stuck in a rut as a pizza delivery boy. However, one rainy night while out on a pizza delivery, he meets Gabrielle (Victoire Du Bois), that further sets the story in motion. According to Firspost, in a sweet poetic reflection, Naoufel confides in Gabrielle how to overpower fate.
“We can change our fate only if we do something completely unpredictable and irrational, something that you shouldn’t have done, but you did because it got you somewhere else and you don’t regret it.“
This journey of the severed hand, scuttling across landscapes in a quest to reclaim its identity as a whole, relays the story of Noufel in a strange but captivatingly moving narrative. It is only when we perceive life in hindsight, through a diminutive gaze, even the trivial and transitory becomes significant and laborious. Distinct, yet invisible to the human eye, the severed hand also becomes a symbol of disintegration and the subsequent affirmation of the self.
The changing visuals and the surreal animation successfully captures the beauty of the city of Paris with all its liveliness and the commotion of everyday life.
Replete with meta-messages, the narrative manages to bring forward the underlying meaning of the protagonist’s discovery of the self. Noufel and his subsequent attempts to tangibly grasp the essence of reality around him are also vividly portrayed through various instances in the film.
Clapin’s classic use of graphic symbolism to manoeuvre the plot is unarguably praiseworthy. For instance, Noufel’s past is represented as being intricately woven into the social fabric of his present-day life. This is also portrayed in the form of a recurring, yet nagging motif of a fly. This imagery also becomes a melting pot, where the past and the present coalesce and work towards anchoring the plot that firmly holds the structure together.