Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Indie Review: Short Term 12 (2013)

              A 'Short' Film Packed With A Big Emotional Punch That Stays With You Long After It Ends

            Here is the Starred Up of 2013: An under appreciated film with universal acclaim yet still had a poor audience showing and an almost non-existent awards canmaign. If films like these continue to slip through the cracks, I don't know if I want to live on this planet anymore.

          Short Term 12 follows the story of a woman named Grace (Brie Larson) who works at a short-term foster care facility for troubled youths. With the arrival of a young abused girl named Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), Grace starts to find her own personal demons starting to unravel.

          I'll start off with the performances. Brie Larson is a quiet revelation as the rather reserved Grace and lets the audience inside her head through the use of only her eyes even when she is building invisible walls between her and everyone around her. Larson has quite an ensemble of actors surrounding her. John Gallagher Jr., who plays Grace's more outgoing fiancee Mason, is a warm presence on screen and always makes you want to leave your door open for him. Next, I'll get into the brilliance of Kaitlyn Dever. Dever is an absolute marvel as Jayden and brings such humanistic layers to a character that could've easily been a caricature. Dever portrays Jayden as someone who will physically lash out, yet still let a simple scratching of her thumb give a large backstory and will showcase witty yet blunt candor. Another standout I'd love to acknowledge is Keith Stanfield as Marcus, a slightly older patient who seems unable to face the outside world. Stanfield's portrayal of this troubled character makes you want to hug him and tell him everything will be fine. The ensemble of actors are all amazing, whether they have a large or smaller role.

          I also loved the way the movie was written by writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton. Not only does he give all the main characters a chance to shine, but he does so without it ever seeming chaotic. It all flows perfectly. Plus, we are given backstory for these characters without ever having to see any backstory. It is also through their scars, their facial expressions, their writings, or in Marcus' case, his music as he has one song that he sings which gives us his troubled background.

         Finally, I want to give points to the editor for allowing these characters their day in the sun without any quick cutaways, helping the ensemble piece seem less chaotic. The film is also beautifully shot by Brett Pawlak, who gives the film a documentary-type feel with colorful lighting to capture the mood of a light-hearted and constrast the heavily emotional scenes.


         Overall, Short Term 12 is a mesmerizing yet gut-wrenching look at the lives of troubled individuals about the will to allow people to heal each other. The cinematography is stunning, the performances are flawless, and the screenplay and direction are very nuanced, showing us every angle from the patients to the main character. The whole thing is a simple yet powerful marvel.

          Would I Recommend It?:
         Absolutely. See it any way you can.

Grade: A+

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