Dir. Jérémy Clapin. 81 minutes.
“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?