Short Term 12 – Heartwarming and Heartwrenching

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MOVIE REVIEW

Short Term 12
Animal Kingdom, Traction Media, US
96 Min
1.85:1
Release UK: 1st November 2013

DIR Destin Cretton
EXEC Frederick W. Green, David Kaplan
PROD Joshua Astrachan, Asher Goldstein, Ron Najor, Maren Olson
SCR Destin Cretton
DP Brett Pawlak
CAST Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever

Short Term 12 gives itself time to take shape, but once we are on board it ends up becoming greatly powerful and passionate in its telling of vast emotional intricacy, determination and resonance. It is a simple film on paper, but overwhelmingly deep in life, body and soul. It is a heartwarming film and a heart wrenching film. By the end, we have a big smile on our faces and see that our characters’ lives come full circle for the best intentions. You can’t expect or want more from this film.

Brie Larson gives a most natural performance as Grace who is in general charge of the facility, though she is not the boss, a psychologist or even a therapist. She is simply a friendly, kind and interactive role model for these hardened kids. Larson has been a gem on the indie screen for the last few years and she certainly has a long and lustrous career ahead of her. She carries the show here.

What is so wonderful about this film is that we get to meet and follow more than one resident’s story. This isn’t a plot overdrive, everything adds up justifiably and we should, in fact, be grateful. The film is perceived to avoid the loophole of sentimentality and offer a window into convincing and manifold characters. Destin Daniel Cretton, the director, reportedly worked as a staff member at a place such like the one shown in Short Term 12. This shows through his material and ability to bring together multiple stories with such fluency and emotional impact. He ensures his characters are worthy of love and attention.

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A new arrival to the foster home, Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) seems to be one of the most deeply troubled, and is a ‘cutter’ as they call it. It is through Jaydan that we learn more about Grace’s dark past, as they strike a sweet and subtle connection with one another. One may doubt Grace’s ability to stand in the position of authority that she holds; Grace is yet to see closure with her own issues, but she is great at what she does through her kindness of heart. It’s no surprise why she does this job: she doesn’t want anyone to have to suffer the same way she did.

Due to her deeply routed internal struggles, Grace struggles to give real intimacy; she cannot commit and is prone to sudden emotional bursts that seem completely irrelevant at the time. This is obviously a problem for her boyfriend of three years, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.). Mason is a nice guy and does exceedingly well not to grab his bags and head for the hills; he will fight for what he believes in. Mason tells two wonderful stories that act as opening and closure for the film. One is funny and sets the day-to-day tone of conversation and spirit in the workplace, whereas the other is one of inspiration and romance that ends the picture suggesting that all the characters have taken a path of elevation.

5/5 stars

Watch the trailer below:

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