There has been a terrible accident, as a young man has lost his hand. The appendage now sits in a hospital fridge in a plastic bag, but somehow it awakens and finds consciousness, wondering how it can escape in the first place, and in the second what it can do to get back to its owner. It manages to open the fridge door and fall out onto the ground, along with a jar that has broken - it uses a shard of its glass to tear the bag, and now it must negotiate the room to reach an upper window before anyone enters and sees what it is up to. As it begins its journey, memories of its life before the separation invade its mind, from when it belonged to a little boy to when that boy grew up...
I Lost My Body, or J'ai perdu mon corps as it was called in its native France, was an animated fantasy taking what had been horror in The Beast with Five Fingers back in the nineteen-forties, and a twisted comedy in Evil Dead 2 in the eighties, among a number of other instances, and crafted a portrait of a sad sack who just cannot get his act together and progress in life. This is Naoufel, voiced by Hakim Faris in the original and Dev Patel in the English language version, and he has never gotten over a childhood trauma where he was in a car crash that killed his parents, leaving the boy an orphan and living with an obnoxious cousin even up to the stage we catch up with him.
There was a lot of switching around in time in this narrative as we flitted from incidents in Naoufel's existence, mostly the events leading up to the accident, and what his severed hand was getting up to. This could have been compelling as it was, but the lead character was so offputting that it was difficult to engage with him: had this been a story of a hand that was delighted to be finally free of a young man who, frankly, was a self-pitying creep, then director Jérémy Clapin might have been onto something a lot more entertaining, but the manner in which it played out was what some would describe as melancholy, except melancholy has a degree of enticement and charm, missing here.
From those flashbacks we can surmise Naoufel was messed up from the belief that he was responsible for the deaths of his mother and father, but guess what? He was right! If he had not been arseing about their vehicle would never have left the road, and that could have made for a story of redemption, yet all the way through what occurs subsequently we watch this bloke consistently make terrible decisions. A redemption arc helps if the central character to it learns something and manages to reform, but that was absent in this, he is really no better come the ending as he was before, and the fact this was inconclusive anyway did not endear you to the film at all. When the greater part of the story had him wooing a librarian, Gabrielle (Victoire Du Bois or Alia Shawkat), to resistible effect you knew you were onto a loser.
It was not so much the desire to be loved that made Naoufel a turn-off, that is a very human longing after all, more the way he went about it: completely cluelessly, as it transpired. Having fallen in "love" with Gabrielle's voice over her apartment intercom when he tried and failed to deliver a pizza to her, he went on to contrive to make himself part of her life with the girl oblivious to their previous connection, if you could call it that. All it would have taken would have been for him to say, "Hey, remember me, the pizza guy?!" and that would be the basis for a nice enough meet cute, but nope, he goes full stalker, getting a job with her carpenter uncle to inveigle himself into her life until his big reveal. Her reaction was about the most realistic in the entire movie, but mostly you would have wished for a full eighty minutes of the hand's adventures, which were a lot more interesting yet get increasingly short shrift the further this went on. If this was supposed to be moving and inspiring, it was not, it was unpleasant. Morose music by Dan Levy.