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Short Term 12: Truthful and Delicately Innocent

Posted on the 16 January 2014 by Haricharanpudipeddi @pudiharicharan

short-term-12short-term-12short-term-12Movie: Short Term 12short-term-12

Director: Destin Cretton

Cast: Brie Larson, Frantz Turner, John Gallagher Jr, Kaityln Dever and Rami Malek

Rating: ****

It’s a shame Brie Larson didn’t get an Oscar nomination because she totally deserved it for her daring and honest performance. I regret not watching this film in Mumbai Film Festival last year, where, viewing it in a room full of passionate movie aficionados would have been a different experience. But I’m glad I have finally watched it and I got to say, it was emotionally mesmerizing.

Drawing underrated performances from his unfamiliar cast, Cretton spins a moving tale of events inside a group foster home. Grace is (Brie Larson) a twentysomething, foster care supervisor who tries to create a safe environment for the kids. Her job at the home is not just merely taking care of the kids and attending to their personal, emotional and psychological needs, but to also prepare them for life on the outside. In this journey, she wrestles with her own deep-rooted emotional secrets and comes to terms with it.

The story revolves around three key characters – Grace, Marcus and new entrant Jayden. Marcus is about to turn 18, which means he’ll have to leave the home. Jayden, on the other hand, who has just joined, is not keen on making any friends as she believes her father will come to get her soon. What’s interesting here is that we get to see Grace, a formerly troubled teen herself who now hopes to serve as a guide for others. At this juncture, you doubt Grace’s ability to deal with the children, but the way she cares for them shows how much she has been affected by her past and why she doesn’t want to see that happening with anyone else.

The film could have been emotionally mawkish, as it is populated with characters you feel sorry for. Instead, it turns out to be a truthful and delicately innocent portrayal of love and affection. Cretton takes an unswervingly naturalistic, chatty approach to both the complicated issues these kids face and the no-nonsense way their counselors try to help them. He uses his characters aptly to leave an impact in the psyche of the viewers, allowing them to understand what it means to care for the kids in the story. He also refrains from taking a preachy stance and rather focuses on uplifting with intermittent humor.

Talking about humour, there are moments in the film that will make you smile unknowingly. These are not intentionally written scenes aimed at evoking laughter, but genuinely sweet moments that unfold between the supervisors and the kids.

Another aspect of the film focuses on relationships. Be it the one between Mason and Grace, Hayden and Grace or even Marcus and Grace, you create an instant connection with the characters and want to care for them. It shows us that you need to find ways to get into someone’s life to connect with them. For Grace and Hayden, it’s the drawing that helps them to come together and share with each other emotional secrets. For Marcus, it’s his rap music, he uses as a medium to speak his heart out.

Short Term 12 is director Destin Cretton’s feature-length expansion of a short film he made in 2008 on the same subject. With fine realistic performances, it is engaging and moving, achieving a friendly and honest realism which offers an insight into such care and espouses sharing one’s feelings and problems in life rather than trying to make do alone.


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