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Film Reviews

If Anything Happens I Love You: Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Netflix’s short film If Anything Happens I Love You, is one of a kind. Dexterous animation melds with gripping music to render a heart-wrenching experience. Under the direction of Michael Govier and Will McCormack, it succeeds where films in similar categories fall short. 

The twelve-minute animated film invites us on a journey of reconciliation. We follow two parents who have fallen apart. Looming shadows visualise their inner grief at the silent dinner table or mundane chores. Then, we spiral down memory lane to discover the tragic incident behind their fallout. 

The sensitive use of the animation medium is a large part of its success. Animation director Youngran Nho made full use of the canvas. The shadows of their emotions are sharp and critical, or round and benign. They twist, meld, detach and blend. Sometimes they take up more than half of the canvas, but other times, their absence highlights a dreadful emptiness. Similarly, the contrast of colours in the goofy memory sequence with the black-and-white coldness of the incident amplifies the roller-coaster of change in the story. The lucidity of the animation makes it easy to grasp the highs and lows of the characters, and in doing so, propels the narrative forward.

In the absence of verbal communication between the characters on-screen, the role of music becomes crucial. From the icy notes of a xylophone to the pop song in the memory sequence, the soundtrack lends mood and atmosphere to the story. But then suddenly, there is no music. The viewer is plunged into chill and dread at the scene of the tragedy exacerbated by its soundlessness. You are forced to confront the silence and the horrible sounds that are made after it.

This short film raised the bar for all films made about political topics, regardless of medium. Political films often struggle with conveying a message convincingly. The 2016 film I’m Not Ashamed has a similar focus on gun violence in the USA. However, viewers were left confused, arguing if the message was successful, or if there was a message at all. If Anything Happens I Love You succeeds in transcending this problem because it is, first and foremost, a film with universal emotions that everyone could relate to regardless of which policy you support. It leaves dissenters tongue-tied because they cannot argue against the undeniable trauma left by the film’s events.

Watch this short film without reading the synopsis beforehand. Knowing the plot lessens the raw emotional impact of it and the observations and epiphanies you will gain from it. Go in blind, If Anything Happens I Love You invites introspection and evokes empathy to create a masterpiece in twelve minutes.

Image: Chameleon Design via The Noun Project