Short Term 12 (2013) Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. With Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr, Rami Malek, Keith Stanfield and Kaitlyn Dever.
I’m not going to forget this one in a hurry. Nor would I want to. Written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, Short Term 12 is a dip into the lives of a group of twenty-something care workers at a residential facility, helping to create a safe environment for teenagers with deep-seated emotional problems.
Among many other things, this is a film about love, patience and understanding. It’s about being a good human being. I’m making it sound terribly saccharine, but this isn’t something that tries to bludgeon you with over-exaggerated sentiment. Rather, it is a deftly written piece of human insight with truthful characters and a good heart.
An independent release, Short Term 12 is likely to have a strong impact on anyone who gives it a chance. It’s characters are intricate. Thrown together, they are fascinating. It is full of subtly giant performances from a cast in love with the material. Director, Cretton, and DOP, Brett Pawlak, opt for an Instagram look that fits well with the young narrative lens that the story is told from. Furthermore, it’s shot in a quasi-documentary style that affords the drama the potency of realism.
If Brie Larson wasn’t on the radar before, she most certainly is now. Her central performance as Grace gradually peels back the layers to provide the audience with an involving emotional connection. Her boyfriend in the film too, John Gallagher Jr, is an example of an actor playing a character that you completely and utterly buy into, such is the natural, easy-going flow of the performances. That goes for everyone in this young, impressive cast.
I lost count of the times I had to wipe a tear out of the corner of my eye. Not because the film is imbued with sadness and tragedy, but because behind that thick layer, there exists a real force for good that wants to put its reassuring arm around us and tell us everything will be alright. In the end, Short Term 12 manages to be a little bit of everything. It’s funny and poignant. It’s uplifting and emotional. Yet most crucially, it is 100% human. 5/5