“Sophia always comes back to life”
If you look at Shawn Christensen‘s career and see a credit for writing the Taylor Lautner-starring Abduction as its centerpiece, confidence doesn’t necessarily run high. And yet his nineteen-minute short Curfew has earned an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short Film. As the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover.
I’m not going to say this film is great or deserves the victory or anything else overly hyperbolic. I will however admit that the feeling I had after watching wasn’t what I expected while it unfolded. Opening on Christensen’s Richie soaking in bloody bathtub water with one wrist cut and another about to be sliced, a distraught phone call from sister Maggie (Kim Allen) gives him pause. A litany of “You’re the last person I want to call but I need you” comes without letting him get a word in edgewise, but for some reason he stares off into the distance and says “Okay”. It’s borderline comical—maybe unintentionally so—and I anticipated it getting worse from there.
But then I started hearing Miles Fisher‘s cover of Talking Heads‘ “This Must Be the Place” and I began smiling at Shawn’s musical tastes. Young Sophia (Fatima Ptacek)—the subject of that call, in need of babysitting—starts spewing humor-filled precociousness and becomes immediately endearing. And then a catchy tune I’d love to discover the name of—the credits don’t contain a song list—begins playing as Ptacek and an entire bowling alley dances to the beat. I started to understand that while the whole may have its problems, Christensen definitely possesses some talent on the dramatic and comedic spectrums. Well, if nothing else, he at least knows how to pick a great cinematographer (Daniel Katz).
I know this review is kind of all over the place and doesn’t shine a pristine light upon the work, but while the subject matter seemed trite at the time it is resonating with me now. Clichéd family values trump drug addiction, spousal abuse, and depression to show things can always be fixed and the darkest days will lead us back into the light, but it works. There is a lot to like before Alexander‘s “Truth” ushers in the end credits—hopefully my love for the music didn’t clouded my overall judgment.