Director James Sunshine’s short film Curiosity is a curious little diversion that, despite its breezy tone and gently humorous touches, leaves a lingering feeling of unease. It deals with loneliness, after all, and our inherent desire to connect with one another. Loneliness in this case manifests itself as an almost-psychotic urge to help people. But what if they don’t want or need to be helped?
“I get anxious very easily and prone to helping people in ways they didn’t ask for,” the film’s protagonist, the hapless mailman Bob Cooke (Bob Clendenin), narrates early on. In the wake of his wife’s death, Bob becomes almost invisible to everyone – including himself. In a desperate attempt to find connection, he even “borrows” people’s mail and hides it in the freezer.
What “keeps his engine running” is his best friend Dustin (Eddie Steeples) – and the next-door neighbor, Holly (Kirsten Gronfield). Although Bob has never said a word to her, he’s infatuated with the woman; she also likes cartoons, pie, and timeliness. “She has odd friends and it concerns me,” he says of the multiple men entering and leaving Holly’s building. When he witnesses ex-police chief Peter Walker (Joseph D. Reitman) harass and kidnap Holly, Bob and Dustin hatch up a plan.
Purposefully verging on creepy, the film deserves major points for maintaining its charm and making the viewer share its affection for the frankly deluded hero. Sometimes the best intentions are spurred by tragedy and therefore rendered pointless, inessential. Ultimately, it’s Dustin’s willingness to help his friend, rather than Bob’s incessant need to help random folks, that strikes a resonant chord. Kudos to both actors for finding the perfect tone to complement the narrative. As for the film, it certainly makes one curious about Sunshine’s next project.