J'ai perdu mon corps [I Lost My Body] (Jérémy Clapin, 2019)

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J'ai perdu mon corps [I Lost My Body] (Jérémy Clapin, 2019)

#1 Post by DarkImbecile » Wed Feb 05, 2020 2:36 pm

Apperson wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:28 am
Deciding to limit myself to films released last year I'll go with I Lost my Body, the French animated film on Netflix and one of the nominees this year, it has one of the best scores of the entire year and a ton of style.

I'd also recommend watching in the original French voice-over as opposed to the English dub.
Starting a thread for this since I'm assuming it'll have several other members posting shortly...

I'm not usually an animation aficionado, but I have to agree that this was more than worth its brief running time, and I'm glad Apperson chose it because I'm not sure I would have gotten around to it otherwise.

Not only is the score excellent and style plentiful as promised, but the melancholy tone and humanist focus was a bit of a surprise for a film (at least partially) about a sentient, mobile disembodied hand. An elliptical narrative filled with flashbacks makes for engaging viewing, and that melancholy manages to avoid ever tipping over into miserabilism. Perhaps most importantly, Clapin's unwillingness to pander to its protagonist (a Moroccan immigrant in Paris named Naoufel, both when intact and otherwise) and his love interest ultimately avoids some of the easy narrative pitfalls one might expect would be coming after the first 20-30 minutes.

Another bullet dodged was the one I was most worried about going in: making this 75 minutes of the madcap adventures of a hand lost in Paris, showing off some animation chops but failing to establish anything of interest beyond that. Happily, that conceit never overwhelms the core narrative, and in fact supplements it quite well. One of its best — and most appropriate — attributes is how immersively tactile and sensory the movie is, taking time to emphasize the sensations and sounds associated with, say,
having a rat lick old canned tomato sauce off your finger, or stepping on a detached eyeball
and repeatedly illustrating the connection between sensation and memory. Maybe my favorite motif was Naoufel's recurring fascination with disembodied voices of people just out of his reach, and the often futile attempts to connect with the human beings attached to those voices.

Absolutely the nominee I'll be pulling for among the animated feature hopefuls Sunday night, and I'll be curious to hear what others (especially some more engaged with the genre than I am) think of it.

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Re: J'ai perdu mon corps [I Lost My Body] (Jérémy Clapin, 2019)

#2 Post by soundchaser » Sun Feb 09, 2020 12:57 am

It’s nice to see *some* positive library worker representation in film — that so rarely happens these days.

Anyway, slightly more substantive thoughts: First and foremost, I want to echo DarkImbecile’s praise for the score. It is an incredible blend of traditional instruments and synthesizers, which works beautifully (hand-in-hand, one might say) with the thematic and stylistic concerns of the film as a whole. (As an odd hybrid between a semi-traditional romance and a horror film.)

Sadly, my praise doesn’t extend to those romance segments in general. I never got along with the animation style used on the human characters, which I assume was rotoscoping. Everyone feels oddly disconnected from the world around them, which may very well have been a stylistic choice, but it kept me personally from connecting to the characters, especially the protagonist. I’m not sure entirely how to describe it other than “early PlayStation 2 game cutscenes.” (Full disclosure: I had to watch the dub, as it’s all I have access to at the moment. This may not have been as much of an issue in the original French.) As such, I really couldn’t jive with half of the film. The backgrounds are lovely, and the direction in terms of camera placement and movement is is terrific, but I just couldn’t get past the main issue I had.

That said, the hand animation (handimation?) was fantastic, and I think it’s no small part of why I felt more for the hand itself as a character than any of the fully fleshed-out (forgive me) humans. While both segments deal with fate, self-discovery, and belonging, I thought for the most part the hand did so much more subtly and naturally. (I admittedly have an affinity for narratives with deliberate dialogue constraints.) Some of these scenes were really quite moving in their abstractness.

I do appreciate that this is a story that probably only works in animation. As I alluded to earlier, the hand segments play almost like a horror film at first, and they would likely be very off-putting in live-action. There’s an early moment with an eyeball and a subsequent moment with a pigeon that would be tonally overwhelming if they weren’t necessarily stylized by the medium.

So while I get why this couldn’t have been simply “Hand: The Movie,” I think I’d have preferred it that way. Chalk it up to my own idiosyncrasies...I’m glad you recommended it, though, Apperson! And I hope everyone else enjoys it.

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Re: J'ai perdu mon corps [I Lost My Body] (Jérémy Clapin, 2019)

#3 Post by Toland's Mitchell » Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:49 am

Toland's Mitchell wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 10:28 pm
I recall Apperson won the nominees game and wants us to watch I Lost My Body. I saw the film a few days ago but haven't got around to posting on its thread yet. And I see only one person has so far. I'll get to it.
Alright, let's do this.

First off, I want to thank Apperson for this suggestion. While I did not entirely love I Lost My Body, I'm glad I watched it.

We have two interwoven story-lines here, one I loved, the other was merely ok. The first was about a severed hand that came to life and sought to find the body of the depressed teenager named Naoufel it was once attached to. The other was about Naoufel's life, leading up to the incident where he severed his hand. It was a fascinating juxtaposition, in that the main characters of each story were essentially the same, but felt so different due to the wildly contrasting obstacles in their adventures. However, they shared a common goal of seeking attachment and belonging.

The severed hand story was easily the better of the two. So imaginative, thoughtful. It reminded me of the segment from Make Mine Music (1946) where a hat came to life and searched New York City for the other hat it was once next to in a department store. Obviously the severed hand story of I Lost My Body was much more drawn out, and much darker as it took us through the gritty streets Paris, fending off rats, pigeons, and dogs.
Not to mention getting trapped under ice, and nearly getting severed for second time by a subway train.
Meanwhile, I really wanted to see what would happen if/when the hand ever reunited with Naoufel. I loved it. It took me to an unfamiliar place.

On the other hand, Naoufel's story felt all too familiar. Indeed, he won some sympathy points in being an impoverished orphan, working a miserable job, dreaming of a better life, etc. Nevertheless, it was far from the originality/creativity of the severed hand story. This is not to say it had to be, but it wasn't aided by its hokey romantic elements.
In attempt to escape his miserable life, Naoufel tried to romantically pursue a library worker named Gabrielle, to the point where he stalked her and moved into her uncle's woodshop. There was a bond between them, as both of them didn't have parents, didn't have much of a social life, and worked menial jobs. Nevertheless, I never wholly got on board with that story-line. It was a little creepy and hokey.
As far as the animation goes, I thought it nicely fit both stories. For reasons already mentioned, it was perfect for the severed hand story. A live-action severed hand fighting off various animals would've been off-putting. However, I found it fitting for Naoufel's story as well. Yes, it created a disconnect between the characters (particularly Naoufel and Gabrielle) and their surroundings, but that drew me closer to them, not the city of Paris in which they resided. Throughout I Lost My Body, I couldn't help but notice how de-romanticized Paris was portrayed. We often see Paris in movies and TV as a lovely city with beautiful architecture and happy citizens (that is, in the films/TV we get to see in the states). But I Lost My Body showed us the opposite. Many daytime scenes took place indoors (e.g. the woodshop, the library, the pond) where we don't see 'the city.' And many of the exterior scenes took place at night (the rooftop, the gritty streets, the subway train, the delivery, etc.), where the background city was darkened and blurred. And I don't memorize very frame, but I don't recall ever seeing even an animated outline of any of Paris's iconic landmarks. This animation created a lonely, sad environment that fit our three major characters (Naoufel, Gabrielle, and the hand) who struggled every day.

Anyway, in sum, I totally enjoyed the experience of I Lost My Body, even if it was half excellent, half okay.

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Re: J'ai perdu mon corps [I Lost My Body] (Jérémy Clapin, 2019)

#4 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Feb 12, 2020 10:14 pm

I'll join the echo of DarkImbecile's praise on the score, sound, and conscientious reservations from hitting any contrived narrative beats that this could have more easily defaulted on. The animation worked for me and the overall feeling was one of wonder as we are allotted keen insight into a unique perspective from vantage points not often explored. The time issued to such silent meditations is generous and the details of literal angular views find the marvels in the corners of the space glossed over but with as much value, if not more for its choices in originality. I can't pretend that I was as invested in the narrative as I would have liked to have been, for while I felt nostalgic significance from the intimacy of sound and image they were short lived with little connective tissue to elevate the sensations to a cumulatively powerful experience. Nevertheless, I'm glad I watched it, and as far as a film doing something new to both intellectually impress and emotionally move me, it succeeded even if in spurts I wish were just a bit longer and more cohesive.

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