Star – Brie Larson
Genre – Drama
Run Time – 96 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Oscars – Nominations
Awards – 35 Wins & 65 Nominations
Amazon – £6.99 DVD (Blue Ray £6.25)
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So, Short Tem 12, a bit of an indie hit (cost $1 million did $1.6 million) and a spectacular yes with the film festivals, no doubt because of its subject matter, that of kids in care, suffering the same hangs ups of many teenagers today in regular families, like cutting, abuse and depression, the sort of self indulgent things middle-class kids suffer the most, and then go on to make, or review, films. For a low budget indie like this to get 50,000 IMDB ratings suggests it must have hit home where it matters. Lots of film writers had it their film of 2013-14.
Once top thinking mans media totty Joan Bakewell stoked controversy last week on one of those issues, slimming illnesses, quite rightfully pointing out you don’t get many people with anorexia in Africa. Kids are under pressure to look good and perform these days, especially young women, who are told they are equal to men and better bloody well be so. But illnesses of the mind are much harder to fix than physical ones as they never go away fully as the body has no antibody system to attack them. Once you brain starts thinking about stuff it shouldn’t it won’t let up.
It was written and directed by Hawaiian born Destin Daniel Cretton, who based his film and screenplay on his experiences working with similar kids in a similar facility. His short film version of this one was his project at San Diego University Film School. To try and convince director Destin Daniel Cretton to cast Brie Larson (The Room), she told him that she had applied to volunteer with disadvantaged children after reading the script in order to research the role, and so get it. Cretton was duly impressed. What Larson did not reveal was she had been rejected by every organization she had applied to.
Brie Larson ... Grace
John Gallagher Jr. ... Mason
Stephanie Beatriz ... Jessica
Rami Malek ... Nate
Alex Calloway ... Sammy
Kevin Hernandez ... Luis
Lydia Du Veaux ... Kendra
Keith Stanfield ... Marcus
Frantz Turner ... Jack
Kaitlyn Dever ... Jayden
Grace: I like your name, Jayden.
Jayden: It's a boy's name.
Grace: Really? I don't think so.
Jayden: Will Smith did.
Grace (Brie Larson) works at a facility called Short Term12, mostly for trouble kids in between children’s homes or respites care for, or from, parents. It’s a legally open facility so the kids can make a run for it. The staff has restraint procedures for when this happens, the dust cover image. Grace lives with co-worker boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr), both foster kids themselves, Grace recently discovering she is pregnant. She has decided to get rid of the baby but hasn’t told Mason jet.
17-year-old black kid Marcus (Keith Stanfield) is anxious as he has to leave the facility when he is 18, thrown back into the world that owns his troubles. Sammy (Alex Calloway) is the most volatile kid there and the one that likes to run for it. The newest resident is Jessica (Stephanie Beatriz), who Grace quickly bonds with and sees a lot of herself in the 16-year-old.
As Grace Bonds with Jessica it brings back bad memories and so Jessica’s problems become her problems, and it’s affecting her relationship with Mason, rather unfairly. Coupled that her abusive father is coming out of prison very soon. Grace feels she is getting close enough to Jessica for her to share her problems, and vice versa. That’s her job. But her job doesn’t involve dealing with kids outside Short Term12, and their equally disturbed families.
Jayden :Why did you cut?
Grace: My mom died, I went to live with my dad and it's impossible to worry about anything else when there's blood coming out of you.
For $1 million bucks this is a beautifully acted and a very emotional film. Larson has some serious acting chops and deserved her nomination for Room. It’s funny, sad, tense and intelligent all at the same time and the octopus story Jessica tells would break the strongest of hearts. The staff are very white and middle-class in the way they perform and so it does get a bit preachy at times and the kids mostly actors so not as rowdy and rude as they would realistically be. But apart from that the roar edge and pathos to this will leave your mouth wide open at times as it sneaks up on you.
It’s a bit talky at first as we get the writer/director doing a bit of showing off with his gentle Tarantino monologue to warm us up but once into the emotional side of things and the kids stories it sucks you in. As we get into the crux of the film that the kids and staff are more connected then the kids know and so there to help, it’s then the drama unpeels and has its powerful effect. There is some cliché going on but you would expect that around kids who are only ever seen one way in film and TV.
As I say it is low budget and that means melancholic guitar music and understated performances and for some people that’s not enough to rent a movie. But that roar maelstrom of emotions is going to hit home with a younger audience and to those who have been abused. And I don’t mean the middle-aged people that have been trawling through YouTube and Google Images to get them sat next to Jimmy Savile so to make false claims and some compo. This is about those kids that suffer in silence and the evil parents who await them at home, the children unable to tell anyone of their abuse as they are too embarrassed or simply feel all kids go through this and so they should just get on with it, rich lawyers telling the abusive parents to make up stories they were abused so they get lighter sentences or no jail time at all. The system is messed up.
Imdb.com – 8.0/10.0 (50,123votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 93% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 82 critic’s approval
Leonard Maltin Film Book –
-Short Term12: Behind the Scenes-
Behind the scenes stuff as cast & crew talk about how they put the film together and the young experiences they had to bring to the role. This would be the film that earned Brie Larsson the role in The Room.
The New Yorker –‘It's a wild, unruly mess of rampant emotions, and yes, some of them are painful, but there's a great deal of warmth and love here too. It's a truly wonderful movie’.
The independent- Brie Larson is very impressive as the caring, funny supervisor whose own demons threaten to engulf her’.
Forbes –‘ ..the best film of 2013 so far. ... It will devastate you without warning and break your heart, all while showing you how to move on and feel hopeful again’.
The Radio Times –‘Short is all nuanced performances bathed in sumptuous Californian sunlight: its realism is reflected in its lo-fi aesthetic and naturalistic cinematography’.
Concrete Playground –‘Cretton is able to leap tall towers of everyday humor and humanity and then suddenly drop you into a pit of total, gut-wrenching sadness in a single bound’
The Observer –‘Raw, intense, human and absorbing’.