A 20-something supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend.
Director: Destin Cretton
Short Term 12 is a reincarnation of a short from writer/director Destin Cretton, and it was the film of SXSW 2013 festival, winning both the Grand Jury Narrative Feature Award and the Narrative Audience Award. The film has received loads of award nominations from the indie film industry and is currently sitting at 100% on RottenTomates from the top critics, and now it’s finally available for home viewing.
Recipient of many of those award nominations is Brie Larson, who plays Grace, our heroine, a twenty-something supervising staff member of a foster care home for at-risk teenagers. We hop into the story along with Nate [Malek], a new employee of the home, so we learn the ropes as he does, and we also learn the story of Grace’s boyfriend and co-worker Mason [Gallagher Jr.] shitting his pants. It’s a really strict place, and has a really interesting dynamic considering most all of the employees are college/just-out-of-college age, and everyday life is a constant battle for everyone involved. Especially Grace, who just found out she’s pregnant.
Although I hate to make the comparison, this film, along with many indie productions recently, has a sort of “Instagram” look to it [BLEGH]. Don’t get me wrong, I like the look and feel of it, but the fact that my first comparison is Instagram and not older films or actual production techniques makes me hate myself. Moving on: the direction and editing reminds me a lot of Spike Jonze‘s Her, which was actually released after this film came out, but I saw Her first. I make this comparison because this is a new director, and finding good similarities between him and Jonze is high praise.
The story and focus on actors and characters is the high point of the film for me. While nothing in the film is surprising or refreshing, it is damn effective, thanks in most part to the actors. Larson kills it as Grace, who has more shit on her plate than most anyone I know could handle, and every supporting actor is probably just as good. It’s an award nomination performance across the board. This is a great reference and launching pad for the talent of the writer/director and many talented actors. It was great to watch the range of emotions that the story includes reflected in the performances. No one is every happy for too long, as there is always another problem to be solved or work to be done. The characters and the audience are constantly pulled in opposite directions, and it keeps you involved and entertained. It also shows you just how damn hard people in social work actually work.
4/4 – Heartwarming and heart-wrenching, Short Term 12 is a wonder of and indie film with lovely performances from Larson and company.