Sunday, December 1, 2013

Short Term 12: Movie Review

Realism allows comedy and drama to come together in a fully likable manner.

The realism of a foster care center for teenagers is up-close and personal but provides so much humour that the drama is never over-whelming. It’s also quite touching that the adults in charge are just as messed up as the kids but try even harder in covering it up. Short Term 12 stars Brie Larson as Grace a twenty-something counselor who is in charge of fellow staff and a few emotionally-damaged kids. 2013

Directed by: Destin Cretton

Screenplay by: Destin Cretton

Starring: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr.

Grace is in a relationship with fellow counselor, and former foster child, Mason (John Gallagher Jr). Grace’s emotionally-damaging childhood has left her ill-equipped to be in a relationship but Mason is such a loving, caring individual that she’s going to need to mature up eventually.

Opening the film is the arrival of Nate (Rami Malek), an at-risk teen whom Grace and Mason are showing the ropes to – and us by extension. And in a way, that’s what this film is – a day in the life (or a week in the life) of counsellors at a troubled youth care center. A job that writer and director Destin Cretton once worked. It’s a slice-of-life film in that we don’t really know what the plot is until the daily developments at Short Term 12 start turning into a story.

Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) is new to the home and she has a troubled past that is eerily similar to Grace’s past. The main theme stems from this as Grace is trying to help teenagers in need while having to confront her own past and make decisions about her future.

The highlight of the teenagers is Marcus (Keith Stanfield) who is turning 18 and has to leave the care center. He hides his insecurities behind masculine bravado, but as it doesn’t fool our heroes and heroine, Mason eventually gets him to read his poetry. It’s a rap song with many words and phrases that he’s not allowed to say, but anybody watching will be laughing so hard that he probably can’t be held responsible for every inappropriate thing in the song.

There’s a significant bit of drama unfolding in the foster care center, all of which can be very upsetting, but the beauty of Short Term 12 is that the drama is folded into the comedy so realistically that it really is easy to like. The characters, particularly the supporting adults, are beautifully portrayed and allow the complexities, the flaws and graces, of our heroine Grace to evolve in their own time.

Best of 2013