Review: I Lost My Body

A still from “I Lost My Body.”

Dir. Jérémy Clapin. 81 minutes.
3/5

“I Lost My Body” traces the parallel lives of Naoufel (Hakim Faris) and his hand, severed in an accident. After the death of his nurturing parents, Naoufel’s bright childhood as a would-be astronaut gives way to a dreary adolescence as a pizza delivery boy. Meanwhile, Naoufel’s hand scampers, Thing-like, through the eaves and gutters of Paris, seeking to reunite with its body.

“I Lost My Body” couches its bittersweet story in a flatter, more subdued version of the low-framerate animation of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Its plot ostensibly revolves around Naoufel’s attempts to get close to Gabrielle (Victoire Du Bois), a young librarian whose pizza he fails to deliver. But its most gripping moments are, you might say, hand-made: one memorable action sequence consists of Naoufel’s hand struggling to run down the “up” escalator. Another pits it in life-or-death struggle against a pigeon. “I Lost My Body” is a film not short on charm, and shines most brightly during these moments of purely visual storytelling.

At its best, “I Lost My Body” is like “The 400 Blows”: a confection of mischief and melancholy, with neither diminishing the other. But, as the film drags on, becoming increasingly contrived and melodramatic, its bittersweet flavor becomes simply cloying. An 81-minute film can only contain so much dewy-eyed tragedy before it threatens to burst at the seams. Is there such a thing as an excess of charm?