Short Term 12
Film Title: Short Term 12
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring: Brie Larson, John Gallagher, Kaitlyn Dever, Rami Malek
Running Time: 97 min
Among its many insights, this fine independent drama offers the viewer a very plausible explanation as to why emotionally troubled youths often take blades to their bodies. “It’s impossible to worry about anything else when there’s blood coming out of you,” one teen explains to her counsellor.
Destin Daniel Cretton worked at a residence for emotionally disturbed adolescents, and the writer-director has used the experience to good effect in Short Term 12. Such lines help us slip past the anger and
noise to grasp the mechanics of the inmates’ emotional turmoil. At times, the film comes across like a collection of case studies as it defines the characters in terms of their symptoms. But its sincerity and seriousness is never in doubt.
In a slightly strange structural blip, the picture begins by introducing us to a new staff member and then largely abandons that character to focus on the struggles of Grace (Brie Larson). Along the way, as she seeks to heal wounds, we learn unhappy information about her own life and her journey towards this fretful, rewarding job.
Shot with a mobile camera, the film is a great deal earthier than, say, Girl Interrupted, but we are still dealing with consistently good-looking young people in implausibly clean environments. There aren’t many easy solutions, but there definitely are solutions of some sort.
Still, Short Term 12 thrives on the dangerous chemistry between its young, talented actors. Larson has been skirting the edges of stardom for a few years now and this performance confirms her as an actor of some depth and nuance. The disconnect between her confidence and stability at work and her vulnerability at home comes across as an authentic touch. The film seems to understand that all of us need a little help from time to time. A very humane piece of work.