Sometimes you stumble across the greatest treasures when you least expect it. As it turns out, the South By Southwest Film Festival Winner for Grand Jury Narrative Feature and the Narrative Audience Award, Short Term 12, is every bit as good as advertised. The independent drama journeys through a myriad of emotions on its way to a perfectly-timed finale, representing one of 2013's finest features.
Grace (played by Brie Larson) is a supervisor at a foster-care facility. Nurturing and gentle, the youth in her care truly appreciate everything she does for them. Along with the aid of her co-worker boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), the couple must navigate through the troubles at work as well as the problems in their own lives.
I'll cut right to the chase, Destin Cretton's Short Term 12 is a premier example of how impactful a film can be on its audience. Tender and sweet, you rarely find a movie as innately compassionate as this one. There's plenty of evil in the world and, rather than trying to shy away from it, Short Term 12 stares it right in the eyes. Following a facility full of impressionable at-risk youth who find themselves teetering on the edge of transcending this evil or being consumed by it, the viewer is placed right in the center of these struggles. But it's the aptly named "Grace" who shelters her own personal troubles by waking up every day and offering unconditional love to these children who so desperately need it. Brie Larson is the glue that holds the film together. Her Oscar-worthy performance is both mesmerizing and masterful. The gifted young actress is so unbelievable in the role that the audience becomes a part of her character. You'll smile when she does and your heart will break alongside hers. However, Larson is far from the lone shining star. Her onscreen boyfriend, played by John Gallagher Jr., is almost equally as impressive. And in addition to an entire well-rounded collection of cast members, Short Term 12 succeeds in conjunction with a stellar script and fabulous direction from Destin Cretton.
While the indie drama tugs at the heartstrings with hopes of moving its viewers, the film drowns itself in a hopelessness only to culminate a little too gleefully for my liking. As Short Term 12 zips along, it feels extraordinarily authentic. Therefore, I found its resolution to be slightly bittersweet. "Sweet" in the sense that I left the theatre as uplifted as I should, and "bitter" in the sense that the finale feels forced and slightly unrealistic. But despite this minuscule blemish, Short Term 12 shines through and ends up as one of 2013's most noteworthy films.
Many filmmakers break into the "biz" determined to make their audiences feel an array of emotions. Short Term 12 stands out as the premier example of such films. Gripping and moving there's plenty to love about this little indie drama. It's the type of movie that deserves to be viewed and enjoyed by the masses. Short Term 12 is a strong feature by all accounts and hopefully it will catapult Brie Larson to the stardom she deserves. Do whatever it takes and check out one of the year's best films, Short Term 12.