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There’s a scene midway through this French animation that, for my money, is the tenderest and most lovely of the year – if a little macabre. In a Paris bedroom, a severed hand creeps across the floor to a cot, picks up a dummy and gently pops it back in the mouth of a restless baby. The sleeping child, comforted, wraps her chubby fingers around the thumb of the hand, which quivers imperceptibly at the warmth of human touch: the hand is lonely, you see, separated from its body. Like so many moments in this strange, captivating film it’s unexpectedly moving.
I Lost My Body is directed by first-timer Jérémy Clapin, who gives us two stories in parallel: first, the severed hand’s mission to find its body; in the second, a chance to get to know its owner. He is Naoufel, a beloved only child growing up in Morocco. When his parents are both killed, Naoufel is brought to Paris to live with an uncaring uncle. And so this lively, open-hearted boy grows into an introverted, mumbly young man – a “lost kid”, says the carpenter who hires him (still in possession of two hands) as an apprentice. The realistic animation beautifully captures Paris as a working city with unlovely high-rises and polystyrene fast-food containers. Naoufel, meanwhile, begins to get his spark back when he meets a library worker called Gabrielle.
Note the title is I Lost My Body, not I Lost My Hand. Naoufel’s resilient go-getting hand is the star. This little guy is the Indiana Jones of appendages as he embarks on an odyssey to get back to his body. The POV animation is edge-of-the-seat thrilling as he fights off a pack of rats with a cigarette lighter and glides down an electricity cable on a clothes hanger (we eventually learn how man and hand came to be parted near the end of the movie). There is wonderful poetic montage sequence near the beginning, sketching out the hand’s memories of childhood: gripping the handlebars of a bike, trailing out of the window of a car, reaching for his dummy – a homage perhaps to the start of Pixar’s Up. Hands down, this is the best animation of 2019.
Source: The Guardian
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