Short Term 12
Director: Destin Cretton
Cast: Brie Larson (The Spectacular Now), Frantz Turner (Play the Game)
Runtime: 96 min.
by John DeSando
"You are not their friend, and you are not their therapist," Jack (Frantz Turner) to Grace (Brie Larson)
You can be forgiven if you think Short Term 12 is a documentary, so close it seems to the reality of a foster-care facility, so natural its acting in almost every character. If you see any films this month, makes sure this is one of them
First time helmer Destin Cretton, with two years’ experience in a similar care-giving facility (The title refers to the 12 or so group homes for teens in the county), has masterfully relayed the love and sorrow inherent in a place where virtually everyone is displaced from a parent, or abused, even the staff.
The story belongs to Grace (Brie Larson), a caring giver who influences for good many of her charges, not easy cases any one of them. Part of the reason she is so successful is that she knows from abuse by her father, who is in prison for his offences. She finds a younger Doppelganger of sorts in defiant teen Jadyn (Kaitlyn Dever), whose traumas at the hands of her father are ongoing and call for identifying with Grace’s experiences and strong remedy. Watch for an Oscar nomination if this indie is seen by enough of us.
To parallel the challenges of the home, Grace’s home with fellow staffer, boyfriend Mason is both loving and stressful because she struggles with becoming pregnant and reconciling her tortured past with her father, who is ready to be released form prison. Mason is the ideal caregiver, loving and competent with the teenagers and her.
Although many moments could be melancholic or downright tear-jerking in other hands, Cretton doesn’t allow excessive sorrow to rule; rather, the sadness is mitigated by the small triumphs. Hey, that’s just like real life.
This little indie will cure you of any longing for summer blockbusters and their half-billion-dollar entanglements. Short Term 12’s situations are enough satisfying drama for ten Lone Rangers.
John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at WCBE.org. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com