85th Academy Awards 2013
Nominated for 1 award, which it won.
Won Best Live Action Short Subject (Shawn Christensen).
Watched July 22, 2014.
I adored this short film. In my opinion, it is everything that a short film should be. There is symbolism, experimental and artistic cinematography, strong story telling, solid acting, and a cohesive whole that definitely deserved to win the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Subject in 2013.
This film does not need to be longer. It is complete in and of itself. Sometimes full length features are left too open to sequels, as is all the rage in Hollywood. Once you find a formula that sells, you just keep selling it. Curfew stays out of that trap and is phenomenal on its own. Just the opening shots scream “this is a winner.”
Richie (Shawn Christensen) is in his bathtub, clearly in the middle of committing suicide by razor blade, when his phone rings. It is Maggie (Kim Allen), and apparently Richie is the last person she would ever call but she needs his help. Richie gives in, cleans himself up a little, and heads out to meet his niece whom he hasn’t seen in years. Sophia (Fatima Ptacek) is a force to be reckoned with, just like her mother. Strong, and independent, she knows how to stick up for herself, which may be because she grew up in New York, or maybe it’s because of her mother’s example. She thinks very little of her Uncle Richie who supposedly messed up really badly when she was little and has been cut out of their lives since.
He is a mess. He has huge circles under his eyes, his wrists are bandaged, and a cigarette hangs from his mouth. He takes Sophia to the only approved place (the bowling alley), where things get a little weird and people start dancing, but it actually works incredibly well with the story line and character arc. It is night time in new york, therefore the lighting stays pretty dark, but the filmmakers use a strong contrast that works well for the film. He forms a tentative relationship with Sophia who is slow to let down her guard, but she seems to get the measure of him pretty quickly (which is good since this is a short film).
The short uses the landscape of New York City nightlife very well. It follows the growth of their one-night relationship and makes you root for everyone, even the mom. Christensen wrote, directed, and acted in the piece, which surprisingly works out pretty well for him. Honestly, Curfew is the type of piece I would have adored in my intellectual, artistic filmmaker university days, but at a level that the more consumeristic side of myself can enjoy just as much. It is a great film.
If you have twenty minutes, or even if you don’t, this is a short I would definitely recommend that you watch. If you have never really sat down just to watch a short film, I would suggest that you start here. It is that good.