Review by-Jarrett Leahy
While some film lovers are lucky enough to have available to them boutique movie houses that specializes in smaller indie films, for many movie fans, the only films they get to see in any given year are the slew of big budget blockbusters that get delivered to their local cineplex. So unless initiative is taken to seek out these lesser known movies, a whole sub genre of amazing films are excluded from the majority of movie-goers.
One of the truly gifted and most accomplished films of last year that very few have seen or even heard of is Short Term 12. Written and directed by an extremely talented young filmmaker Destin Cretton, Short Term 12 is a heartfelt and emotionally moving drama with a breakout performance from its lead actress, Brie Larson. Larson plays Grace, a strong willed and whip-smart 20-something that is tirelessly striving to assist a group of teenagers at the foster care facility she works at, all while trying to come to grips with her own past traumas. The acting requirements to truly capture the character of Grace would tax even the most veteran of actresses. So it is a testament to skill and artistry of Larson’s talents that she so ably portrayed such an emotionally complex character.
A film of this nature runs the risk of being overly melodramatic. But under the adept direction and writing of Cretton, never does Short Term 12 become preachy or overwhelming. Instead, the viewer is brought into this intimate little world and introduced to a wonderful and funny group of young people, each of whom are desperately searching for love, understanding, and acceptance. Like most tight knit families, frustrations can boil over, and we the viewer see how the staff has learned to deal with these in house disagreements. By the end of the film, I had emotionally invested so much in the physical and emotional well-being these delightfully unique characters that I found myself rooting for their successes and saddened by their failures.
From the opening scene, this touching and cathartic film about a foster care facility worked its emotional magic on me. I am now a self proclaimed Brie Larson convert, as she was a true revelation on-screen. It is a shame that great independent films like Short Term 12 don’t receive a nationwide release. However, now that it has been put out on DVD, I hope more people will now get the chance to enjoy one of the best films 0f 2013.-JL