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Netflix's 'I Lost My Body' is a Found Dream

Janeen Mathisen

Posted on February 29, 2020 12:18

1 user

This riveting film is one that deserves to be remembered. It is a firm declaration that animation is not lesser than other forms of cinema — it is cinema.

Netflix's I Lost My Body released in late 2019, but that doesn't mean it should exit the cinematic conversation. A Best Animated Feature nominee at the 2020 Academy Awards, this must-watch is like being carried through a dream. Its circumstances, characters, and dialogue are all pervaded with a constant sense of surrealism.

The film's premise is a twin narrative. A severed hand must make its way back to its owner, while a young man toils to connect with an alluring young woman. The premise is striking and captivating. From the well-crafted tension and intrigue in the opening sequence, it's obvious this film is something special. 

A sense of wonder and mystery prevails throughout the narrative. Giving a hand personality is no easy feat — the animators not only do this, but do so with mastery. Tiny fidgets display determination, nervousness, fear, disgust. The hand is hypnotizing to watch: it's clever, quick-thinking, inventive, and kind. It uses the flare of a lighter to defend itself from rats, and a stick's momentum to propel itself out of a strong river current. It displays affection for a human child. Considering it doesn't have a body, the hand acts with a huge heart. Furthermore, simple traversal becomes a tense, mesmerizing, creatively-executed spectacle. The hand quickly bounces and rolls in a forgotten tin and ziplines on a rickety hanger, crawling and racing to find its body while staying hidden from people. These scenes blend curiosity-based sympathy for the hand with mystery for its predicament, creating dream-like scenarios the viewer is loathe to leave.

The rest of the film is far from dull. Grounded by wonderful voice performances and stunningly realistic animation details, human Naoufel's side of the story is equally enchanting. Shy and indecisive, bullied by his flatmate, he yearns to escape fate — represented by a fly. His botched pizza delivery brings him to the first person who cares about him.

Gabrielle changes everything. She is already where Naoufel wants so desperately to be: Content with life and her position in it, she has risen above fate's path, severed from anxieties. However, this means Gabrielle has become satisfied with remaining stationary, and is unimaginative as a result. In comparison, Naoufel's struggles give him the imagination needed to concoct a plan to escape fate by doing something unexpected. He finds fulfillment and true joy in that unexpectedness, his life-long struggle with indecision given the middle finger.

Separately, the stories of a lost hand and an indecisive orphan both searching for something are wonderful to watch. They are different kinds of dreams: one of mystery and reconnection, the other an earnest attempt at escapism punctuated by details that submerge viewers in the dream even further. The tales intertwine in a twist ending that is shocking yet subtly victorious. I Lost My Body is a unique and compelling film with narrative and animation intricacies that make it one of the best viewing experiences one could have.

Janeen Mathisen

Posted on February 29, 2020 12:18

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Source: WTOP
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