It tells the story of Richie (Shawn Christensen), on the verge of committing suicide, whose last quiet, bloody moments are interrupted by a phone call; his sister, Maggie, calls him last minute to ask him to babysit for his nine-year-old niece, Sophia. Richie takes the whole pleading monologue in an expressionless manner and finally agrees to the task. He meets the smart, cute girl and they wander the streets of New York, finally bonding together well.
It is a dramatic story, a sneak peak at life itself, at its ugliness and less sparkling moments. It has genuine performance and an honest portrayal of the actors' humanity. It takes a compelling, heartbreaking subject like suicide and it uses it in an attempt to redeem a lost soul. Richie seems to have embraced this dark choice of taking his own life and, though it appears almost funny to be interrupted twice, the few hours spent with his witty niece give new purpose to his life. Young Sophia (Fatima Ptacek) starts dancing on the bowling alley and her rhythm makes all the people dance to the beat. It is never clear whether it is all in his obviously disturbed mind or it is the effect of spending quality time with his niece that makes Richie's head spin.
Touching, harsh themes such as depression, spouse abuse or drug addiction fill the nineteen-minute short Curfew that earned an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short Film but they are counterbalanced by the innocent look on Sophia's precocious face or Richie's moving, brotherly discourse. I loved the positive message of the short film: family and love can save even the most wrecked and lost soul; it doesn't say with complete assurance that he won't try again but it sheds some positive light on the gloomy atmosphere. Enjoy!