Sometimes life feels without direction or meaning. It happens to the best of us. At other times, your purpose in life is abundantly clear; for example, if you are a reanimated hand that has been separated from the body you used to be attached to. This story is the latter.
I Lost My Body
The animated tale of a severed hand on a mission to reunite with the rest of Naoufel, a young man with a traumatic past.
To say Naoufel hasn’t had the best day ever is an understatement: lying on the floor near his severed hand, covered in blood as flies buzz around him. Later, his hand busts out of a medical waste bag, determined to be reunited with him. What is Naoufel determined to do? You know, chill.
As a child, Naoufel was interested in music and exploration: he dreamed of being a concert pianist/astronaut. Things related to touch and to seeking out the unknown, you’ll notice. Naoufel’s happy childhood was cut short when his parents died in a car accident. At the time of the crash, he was recording sound, and is therefore still interested in listening to and recording the everyday sounds of the world around him.
Now a young adult, Naoufel lives with his uncle and cousin, neither of whom are particularly warm or supportive. An exceptionally bad pizza delivery driver, Naoufel is aimless, isolated, and feeling a lack of agency in his own life.
That is until our apathetic protagonist makes an unusual pizza delivery. Late as always, Naoufel is unable to open the lobby door leading up to the 35th-floor apartment. Though merely explaining the situation to the customer at first, the two begin an earnest conversation over the intercom. Starved of human interaction, Naoufel develops a crush on Gabrielle, the person behind the voice, and becomes determined to find her again.
Recalling from their conversation that Gabrielle works at a library, Naoufel makes his way there. He just barely misses her and, based on information a good coworker would definitely not share with a stranger, follows her to a carpenter’s workshop. When he arrives and is called out for lurking, Naoufel lies and says he is there regarding a notice for an apprenticeship. He’s especially keen to work for the carpenter, Gigi, when it becomes clear that Gabrielle regularly visits to bring him medicine. Even better, Gigi has an apartment available so Naoufel can move out of his uncle’s place.
Though initially using woodworking merely so he can be near Gabrielle, Naoufel demonstrates a knack for the process and enjoys making things. When Gabrielle helps Naoufel with a splinter in his hand, the two have an opportunity to bond. As it turns out, both are extremely interested in the North Pole and long to see that vast, white expanse of land.
This leads Naoufel to a grand romantic gesture: building a wooden igloo on a nearby rooftop. Gabrielle is impressed; however, when Naoufel uses the opportunity to reveal his identity as the delivery guy from all of those weeks ago who has been yearning to reconnect, she is skeeved out.
Meanwhile, the severed hand wanders around the city in search of Naoufel. Facing a harrowing journey, the hand is attacked by a pigeon, nearly trash compacted, brawls with rats, and is almost hit by a subway car. As a viewer, you will become way more invested in what happens to this poor hand than you may have thought possible.
So how did Naoufel lose that hand? And is he destined to keep missing every time he tries to reach out to another human being?
3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
First of all, I feel for that severed hand (no pun intended). I wasn’t even distracted by questions that later occurred to me, such as how the hand could “see” its surroundings and feel pain, and whether it could die again. No–I was that invested in what happened to this hand, and I was rooting for it to find Naoufel and become reattached.
Naoufel himself, though? He sort of drove me crazy. It’s difficult to watch him stumble along in a depressed stupor, and especially so because he feels life is beyond his control. While I relate to these feelings, they don’t always make for a particularly sympathetic character. Also, I hated his decision-making process in virtually every situation. Desperate for human connection and afraid to admit the truth? I get it. Tracking down a woman at work, following her, and then making up a lie so she’ll have to see you regularly? Whoa, man. Let’s not do that. Worse, even though it was beyond his control (and even awareness), I will never forgive Naoufel for not reuniting with that severed hand!
I will admit that this film is gorgeous to look at, and the symbolism is highly effective. The idea of touch as a way to connect people to each other and to the world around them is clearly important, and the animation focuses on not only the severed hand, but also the use of hands to touch, create, and interact. Naoufel is also very interested in destiny, as the forces shaping his life to this point have felt very much beyond his control. Though this review paints a somewhat bleak picture, I appreciate that there is hope in the film. Naoufel learns it is possible to break patterns and to change the course that seems to be laid out. Beautifully, he learns to be at peace with the idea of not feeling whole. Too bad the severed hand doesn’t get a say there.