PFF 2019: Flatland; I Lost My Body

by Rachel Bellwoar

The 28th Philadelphia Film Festival Coverage, Part 2

Flatland

Written and Directed by Jenna Cato Bass

Sometimes a character reveals themselves to be bigger than the film that they star in (whatever you think of Johnny Depp, Jack Sparrow was one of these). It’s the same way with Faith Baloyi’s Beauty Cuba, a South African cop who watches soap operas religiously. If you weren’t already there for the velour tracksuits, every additional detail you learn about Cuba cements her character, like someone you’d find in an Elmore Leonard story. Just to have the presence to live up to a name like Beauty Cuba takes a special kind of actress and the effect is such that she should be carrying her own TV show, or at least have one built around her after this film.

Flatland starts with a wedding but one where only half of the couple seems happy to be there. At the first opportunity, Natalie (Nicole Fortuin) runs off to visit her horse, and it’s there that she goes after her wedding night, with her husband’s gun. Unsure where to go next, she visits her sister, Poppie (Izel Bezuidenhout), who’s been waiting “for something real to happen” and agrees to tag along. You’d think a heavily pregnant teen would avoid riding a horse but Poppie’s thrilled, and the two girls are off, using their gun to threaten people when needed and not really making any effort to stay under the radar.

Eventually Beauty and Nicole’s storylines merge but in Flatland it’s not really the conflict between the lawman and the criminal that’s heightened but the racism Beauty and Nicole face. Flatland sometimes struggles to gain momentum, but the ideas are there. It’s like an ok pilot for a TV show, except it’s not a TV show, so you might not get to see these characters again.

 

I Lost My Body

Directed by Jérémy Clapin

Screenplay by Jérémy Clapin and Guillaume Laurant

It’s important, going into I Lost My Body, to remember that it’s French. Any film where the main character loses their hand is going to involve some sadness. The fact that it’s an animated movie doesn’t change that, but how pervasive that sadness gets can be a curveball if you’re expecting the scenes of the hand looking for its body to balance things out.

From the Thing in The Addams Family to the hands from the Nick Jr. shorts, Amby and Dexter, there’s an association between disembodied hands and comedy. Horror movies have their fair share too, but nothing in Naoufel’s hand’s behavior points to it meaning harm. The hand, however, gets hurt a lot during its travels, in scenes that are extremely vicious (an encounter with a pigeon being the worst of all).

The hand just wants to reunite with its body and throughout the movie flashbacks are introduced using the hand’s memories of things it touched as starting points. The ones where Naoufel (voiced by Hakim Faris) is really young are black and white, while a more recent past appears in color. Naoufel’s life was already filled with tragedy, before he lost his hand, and it’s this double whammy that makes I Lost My Body hard to watch. The quality is there (especially in how it approaches the hand’s perspective), and there are a few light moments, involving  Naoufel’s courtship of Gabrielle (voiced by Victoire Du Bois), a girl he meets delivering pizzas (my favorite part of the movie is when she puts the keychain he made for her on her backpack without any fanfare) but you have to be up to watching, because it’s an emotionally heavy ride.

I Lost My Body will be on Netflix starting November 29th.

 

The 28th Philadelphia Film Fesitval runs from October 17th to October 27th. Click here for the full schedule.

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