I Lost My Body: Explained Simply (2019 Netflix)

I Lost My Body (J’ai perdu mon corps) is a 2019 animated French movie on Netflix. The majority story is told from the perspective of a hand trying to make its way back to his body. Now, perhaps your thinking “Thing” from The Addams Family. I’ll stop you right there, this film no comedy; there are many layers of metaphors about holding on to one’s past. Do give it a watch. Here’s the plot analysis and ending of the movie I Lost My Body explained; spoilers ahead.

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Contents

Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

What is I Lost My Body about?

It’s a story about the ups and downs of life. And no matter how impossible it appears to overcome a terrible moment (like losing loved ones), it is possible to eventually move past it. I Lost My Body is presented from the perspective of a dismembered hand recollecting its owner’s life. The climax is shown from a third person’s perspective where everyone in the film… moves on.

The movie is filled with metaphors, and I’ll not elaborate on all of those as it tends to get overly subjective. I’ll touch upon a few, and perhaps we could discuss the rest in the comments below.

What’s the point of the severed hand in I Lost My Body?

i lost my body hand mouse

The film’s opening shows Naoufel lying on the floor, hurt from something, his glasses are broken. A man (Gigi) rushes to help. This is the result of an accident that severs his hand. The story told from the hand’s perspective gives us the feeling of the helplessness. This is metaphorical and illustrates how Naoufel felt when his family was suddenly removed from his life. The hand, too, is orphaned and left to fend for itself. 

Everyday circumstances become a living nightmare for the hand. These visuals help us interpret how Naoufel’s life would have transformed when he went from being a loved and protected child with aspirations of becoming a piano player and astronaut to an orphan raised in a foster home. Watching the hand struggle is not a pleasant experience, and this was by design. However, we do see a short warm moment with the baby, which means Naoufel, too, had a few warm moments even though he grew up without his parents.

I Lost My Body: The Fly, The Past

The fly represents bad omen. You’ll notice it throughout the film, specifically when something terrible is about to unfold. Also, catching a fly is something that is part of the past that Naoufel clings on to. When he was young, his father tried to explain how a fly can be caught. It appears that Naoufel develops an obsession to grab them because that’s a conversation with his dad that he remembers fondly.

Apart from the fly, there are few other things from the past that Naoufel has clung on to:

  • The recorder and the tapes. Especially the recording of the accident that killed Naoufel’s parents. Naoufel has been living with the guilt of being responsible for the accident. 
  • The watch. This belonged to Naoufel’s dad.

I Lost My Hand: Plot Explained

Naoufel’s Story

As a child, Naoufel ends up distracting his father on a drive out, resulting in an accident that kills both his parents. After that, he grows up in a foster home. He lives his life with no direction and clings on to his past. As a pizza delivery boy, he has a conversation with a girl called Gabrielle over the intercom. He is unable to meet her and deliver the pizza because it took a tumble. Naoufel gets infatuated with Gabrielle.

creepy Naoufel

Gabrielle

Gabrielle is a chatty girl and ends up mentioning where she works. We’re not given a lot of insight into Gabrielle’s character or what she’s going through. Not everyone has a lengthy conversation with their pizza delivery guy who’s not just late but is sitting around eating the undeliverable pizza. Naoufel goes to her workplace in a creep move, then stalks her, and runs into her uncle, Gigi. He lies saying he’s looking for a job and convinces Gigi to take him as his protege. 

Over time he and Gabrielle grow close. He visits her in the library, and she talks about never being able to see a place with an igloo. As Naoufel gets better with his carpentry skills, he builds a wooden igloo for Gabrielle. He invites her for dinner one night, and inside the igloo in a creepier move, Naoufel announces proudly that he is the pizza delivery guy from the other night. Obviously, Gabrielle bails on him in disgust as she’s angry and upset that Naoufel has been using her aged and ailing uncle.

Losing his Hand

Naoufel is heartbroken. He’s grown up without parents’ guidance, and the only person he’s seen growing up is his foster brother. Despite this, Naoufel attempts to be chivalrous in his own twisted definition and fails miserably. Following this, Naoufel gets into a fistfight at his brother’s party which is uncharacteristic of him. He’s tired of being pushed around.

Naoufel spends time listening to his old collection of tapes. He hears the one which has the accident that killed his parents. He takes his dad’s watch and wears it. The next day, Naoufel shows up at the workshop wearing the watch. He’s distracted by a fly, and his earmuffs make him forget that the machine is on. 

The watch turns out to be a big mistake as it gets caught in the machine and his hand gets severed (I’m really glad my workshop attendants in college made us run around the whole block as punishment for showing up wearing a watch).

Finding his path

Naoufel is disgruntled in the weeks to come. Gigi tries to get some insurance work done on his behalf, but Naoufel is thankless and rude. The climax of the film is shown in the third person, through a recording that Gabrielle is hearing. Naoufel has a theory that if you want to escape fate, one must do something highly unexpected and erratic and keep going on that path. This is something he tells Gabrielle early on. Naoufel has never really applied this principle to his life, so he decides to do two things.

  1. Take a death-defying leap from the roof on to a nearby scaffolding (beat fate).
  2. Record this event over recording of the day of the accident (let go of the past).

He makes it. He leaves. The next morning, Gabrielle comes to his room and realizes Naoufel has left. She checks the roof with the igloo to find the recorder. She hears it and learns what Naoufel did and that he’s moved on. Gabrielle did feel bad for Naoufel because of the accident and was checking on him as any human being would. Knowing that he’s going to be okay, she moves on too.

I Lost My Body: The Hand’s Story

This aspect in I Lost My Body is all metaphorical. The hand breaks out of the frozen storage it’s been kept in. From there it has a whirlpool of a time going from one place to another. Fate takes the hand to places which it never planned on. Without its body, it’s left orphaned just like Naoufel was. 

Eventually, the hand finds itself on a roof and uses an umbrella to make a leap of faith (well, a half-hearted one). We see a toy astronaut that the hand sees as guidance (I believe this represents Naoufel inner strength). The umbrella is thrown all over the place, but the hand doesn’t let go. Eventually, a gust of wind picks them up, and the hand finds its way to the building besides Naoufel’s room.

I Lost My Body: Ending Explained

gabrielle Naoufel ending

The hand locates Naoufel only to realize that they can never be whole again. At the end of I Lost My Body we’re shown that Naoufel makes the leap and howls out successfully. He finds himself free from his fate. He realizes that everything he’s been doing his entire life is not because he wants it, it’s just the direction fate took him in, including his carpentry job for the sake of Gabrielle. Holding on to his past only caused him more pain and agony. Think about it, had he not been wearing the watch or obsessing on the fly, he wouldn’t have lost his hand. He takes his leap of fate and simultaneously records over the event of the accident, thereby setting himself free of the past.

The end of the film finds everyone (well, mostly) finding closure and moving on. Naoufel realizes that he needs to go down the path his heart takes him. Maybe he’ll go back to working with Gigi or perhaps pick up something else. 

Gabrielle, who feels a little guilty, is happy to know Naoufel didn’t kill himself and is on his new path. 

The hand is a metaphorical character which realizes that it can’t reunite with Naoufel. Poor thing backs away, knowing he’s moved on and disappears in a poof of logic.

Gigi never wanted to waste time because his earlier proteges abandoned him after learning their carpentry skills. And Naoufel does precisely this. But Gigi probably forgives him because Naoufel did lose his hand.

What did you think about the movie I Lost My Hand? Do drop a line, let’s discuss.

 

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