Sandra Loves Guns: Life and Death of a Drug Lord [Julia Tarissan & Swann Darcy, France, 2019]
Sandra Loves Guns: Life and Death of a Drug Lord follows the typical structure of a rags-to-riches gangster story. We see what forces a person enter into a life of crime, how they rise and how they eventually fall. However, directors Julia Tarissan and Swann Darcy manage to deliver a unique and hilarious gangster story filled with creative animated and voice work.
The story revolves around J. J. Jones, a drug lord or “socially conscious businessman”, as he prefers, whom a journalist is interviewing. J. J. explains he was forced onto the streets as a child after his father died. He was later taken in by his uncle Malcolm “the real” Jones, but after Malcolm dies he is cast out onto the streets.
This tragedy triggers his descent into a life of crime. As he rises through the ranks, he meets Sandra, the love of his life. Sandra is only able to orgasm upon hearing a gunshot. The gunfire is symbolic of the violence that dominates his life; it mirrors the drug dealer’s relationship, and is what holds everything together in his life. If it were not for violence, he wouldn't be as powerful as he is and wouldn't be in a relationship.
The animation within the film is very crude, but that doesn't limit it. The majority of scenes have background gags, which give the film a more creative aesthetic. It provides the film with a bolder personality and forces the directors to be more creative with their animation style. This is shown during the interview – the majority of the time everything is still except for the characters mouths and the odd background item.
The dialogue is what makes the film shine as the directors use it to overcome their animation restrictions. Every voice is unique, and the dialogue fits the characters perfectly. The interview between the journalist and protagonist shows this as the journalist has a clear goal, to get J. J. to explain everything about his life, sparing no details.
This interview approach makes J. J. a more interesting character; he appears vulnerable, which makes the audience begin to sympathise with this character. It is clear that he sees himself as more than a drug lord and wants to be more, but is held back by the cards he has been dealt.
The sound design does follow the crude format, but to its advantage. The most entertaining instance is during a gunfight where instead of the typical gunshot sounds, it's the voice actors themselves producing the sound effects.
Sandra Loves Guns: The Life and Death of a Drug Lord is a unique crime film that, despite the restrictions of its animation style, manages to create an incredibly creative and hilarious film that explores the relationship between a crime lord and a life of violence.
'Sandra Loves Guns: The Life and Death of a Drug Lord' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2020.