The past year has in no way fallen short of division in politics or challenges to health and safety, and Netflix reiterates that in its newest animated short film.
“If Anything Happens I Love You” achieves what many two-hour-long films strive to do, in just 12 minutes and without a single word being spoken. Released Nov. 20, the short film drives home the prominent social issue of gun violence and evokes emotion in its viewers.
Beautifully written and directed by Will McCormack and Michael Govier, and produced by Gilbert Films and Oh Good Productions, “If Anything Happens I Love You” shows the process of grief that two parents go through after the loss of their young daughter to a school shooting. With a run-time of less than 15 minutes, the animation embodies a heart wrenching process that could take a lifetime.
The film shows a timeline of the family’s experiences in a reversed format, beginning the film with a depiction of pain and hardship before revealing its source within the very last minutes of the drama. The way in which the animation progresses in a non-chronological manner effectively forces the audience to be immediately pulled into the mother and father’s depression, sharing their distress as they watch the aftermath unfold.
What makes this film particularly unique to other short films is how it serves as a perfect example to the saying, “less is more.” Animated short films typically check off every tactic possible in trying to win over the approval of their audience within such a short time frame. This is what inspires the bright, striking range of colors that are often used, as well as the “cuteness factor” of many short films’ subjects and protagonists.
“If Anything Happens I Love You” falls on the other end of the spectrum, working to emphasize its message on gun violence through the simplicity of its drawings and colors. Each part of the animation is illustrated in an almost scribbled, roughly sketched way. Also, the colors used are minimal, heavily relying on hues of gray, black and earthy tones.
The lack of color and scratchiness of the illustrations is clearly an artistic choice, as it better portrays the depression and hollowness of the parents as they work their way through the grief. It also points to the grim effects that gun violence has on society.
Vivid colors are only used when showing the robbed pleasant memories or significance of the daughter who passed away, suggesting the life and happiness her presence brought to the family. The only other instance when color is incorporated is to embolden the American flag, hanging above the school’s doorway, where the daughter’s life was taken away.
The prominence and focal point of the flag in the shot screams, without words, the message of the film: “This is what happens in American society. What will be done about it? Will people in power who claim to love the world’s future leaders do anything to protect them?”
The elimination of words, color and polished illustration, or rather the selectiveness of when to utilize them, dramatically communicates the anguish and void that no dialogue could ever capture. The only other element to carry the film’s tone is the music, which works and functions similarly to the animation’s use of color.
The music is simple enough to not distract the viewer or detract from their focus on the message of the story. It serves as a light background sound that further paints a picture of how lifeless and slow reality can feel after losing a loved one.
Music only finds prominence when King Princess’ lively song, “1950,” plays as flashbacks of the daughter fill the screen. The quick pace of the song equates to the exciting, invigorating experience of having a whole and safe family.
Overall, the simplicity of the elements of “If Anything Happens I Love You” is quite a contrast to the complexity of the topic it aims to explore, as well as the depth and range of emotion it leaves its viewers feeling.