Movie Review – Short Term 12 (2013)

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Stars: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Stephanie Beatriz, Rami Malek, Alex Calloway, Kevin Hernandez, Keith Stanfield, Kaitlyn Dever

Short Term 12 takes place in a short-term care facility for at-risk foster children. Grace (Larson) works with her long-term boyfriend Mason (Gallagher) as they welcome a new addition to their staff (Malek). They also welcome a new addition to the facility, Jayden (Dever), whose problems reflect Grace’s past, and Grace is forced to confront her trauma just as she’s preparing for some important life decisions.

This films is almost hard to review because while watching Short Term 12 I was struck by how raw it is, and there were many times when I forget that I was watching a work of fiction. At times it felt like a documentary. It obviously brings up a lot of emotions and I’m sure will bring out different reactions depending on your background, but the film sheds light on a number of different conditions and traumas, and shows victims in different stages. Larson is the anchor to the film and it mostly revolves around her, but we also get show a young man who is turning 18 and forced to leave the sanctuary of the facility, there’s a young boy who is traumatised after the loss of his sister, and alongside the children there are the adults who have decided to dedicate their time to take care of the children and try to provide them with a safe place, yet are also frustrated because they’re not therapists or guardians so they don’t have any legal say in the wellbeing of the children.

I found a lot of the scenes moving, but I don’t want to give you the impression that it’s a depressing and grim film because there are moments of light-heartedness too. There’s a lot of heart in this film and it left me thinking about the world and how I interact with people. I actually know someone who is a foster parent and I’m going to recommend this to her, but I feel that pretty much everyone should watch this movie. It’s highly impressive, and deserves more recognition.


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