Title: Short Term 12
MPAA: R for language and brief sexuality
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Rami Malek
Synopsis: A 20-something supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend.
Review: Short Term 12 is a fantastic hidden gem you can currently find on Netflix. This is without a doubt one of the most underrated films I have ever seen, and really surprised me the first time I watched it. It’s directed and written by Destin Daniel Cretton. This is Cretton’s second film and his passion project. Five years before this film was made, he made a short film of the same name. This won him an award at the Sundance Film Festival and put him on the map. He would eventually create a full length film out of it, and boy was it a doozy.
The first thing I should praise about this film is how realistic it is. Taking place at a group home for at-risk teenagers, Short Term 12 perfectly showcases what exactly goes on in one of these places, being completely honest and uncensored. It really feels like you’re watching a documentary. All the characters in this film feel very real. Credit has to be given to the director and his wonderful screenplay. Cretton actually did work at one of these group homes after he graduated college, which makes perfect sense with how his film turned out. This film also does a good job of mixing comedy with drama. It doesn’t drown you with sorrow and does not feel too depressing. There is some great humor sprinkled throughout this film, which is important because the film touches on some pretty dark topics.
There are also some fantastic performances in this movie. Brie Larson is easily the stand out in this film as the main character Grace. This was definitely her breakout performance, and one that I believe will define her career. She is known today as an Academy Award winning lead actress, but she gave an equally great performance in this film, just a few years back, and was one that eventually earned her the role in Room which gave her the Academy Award. Before this film, Larson did mainly supporting roles and comedies, but this performance proved just how great of a dramatic actress she is. Her character, Grace, in this film is the counselor for the group home who has a tragic past. She gives an emotionally charged performance that is really extraordinary to watch. Her chemistry with her boyfriend in the movie, Mason, is also great. The teenagers in the group homes all give impressive performances, especially Keith Stanfield as Marcus, and Kaitlyn Dever as Jayden.
Overall, this is a must-see film and one that should have been nominated for Academy Awards, but sadly got shut out. This is one of the best movies of the past five years. Short Term 12 can be funny at times, tragic, and even moving. It is well-paced, well-shot, and gives inspiring performances. If you haven’t seen it please check it out. You will not be disappointed. My grade for this movie is: