Moving like a five-legged lobster, the “I” in Jérémy Clapin’s animated J’ai perdu mon corps (I’ve Lost my Body, 2019) appears to be a personified hand. It crosses a dirty Paris looking for the rest of its body. Interwoven with this story, teenaged pizza delivery boy Naoufel (voiced by Hakim Faris) is desperate to get to know a girl he talked to via an intercom. A third plotline reveals Naoufel’s past in soft white and grey flashbacks. Bit by bit, the film reveals how the different stories and characters are interconnected to each other (or disconnected, in the poor hand’s case). Past and present are intertwined; a fly that seems to travel from one period in time to another is one of the instances where transitions from present to past are elegantly introduced by image and sound associations.
The film’s overall melancholic mood is established by its central theme, incompleteness: a hand missing its body; Naoufel missing a companion, missing his parents. The alienated, desolated, grey and rainy streets of Paris evoke a sense of melancholy. At moments though, J’ai perdu mon corps breaks through this pervading sadness. In its most moving scene, the hand is held by a baby reaching out for a finger to hold. A rare moment of grace that strongly contrasts with scenes of the hand being beleaguered by rat teeth, wood splinters and ice-cold water.
J’ai perdu mon corps’s rough animation style does not try to cover any imperfections, which adds to its honesty, the film’s most essential quality.