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Forget your blockbusters--this is super cinema without the price tag.
jdesando14 September 2013
"You are not their friend, and you are not their therapist," Jack (Frantz Turner) to Grace (Brie Larson)

You can be forgiven if you think Short Term 12 is a documentary, so close it seems to the reality of a foster-care facility, so natural its acting in almost every character. If you see any films this month, makes sure this is one of them

First time helmer Destin Cretton, with two years' experience in a similar care-giving facility (The title refers to the 12 or so group homes for teens in the county), has masterfully relayed the love and sorrow inherent in a place where virtually everyone is displaced from a parent, or abused, even the staff.

The story belongs to Grace (Brie Larson), a caring giver who influences for good many of her charges, not easy cases any one of them. Part of the reason she is so successful is that she knows from abuse by her father, who is in prison for his offenses. She finds a younger Doppelganger of sorts in defiant teen Jadyn (Kaitlyn Dever), whose traumas at the hands of her father are ongoing and call for identifying with Grace's experiences and strong remedy. Watch for an Oscar nomination if this indie is seen by enough of us.

To parallel the challenges of the home, Grace's home with fellow staffer, boyfriend Mason is both loving and stressful because she struggles with becoming pregnant and reconciling her tortured past with her father, who is ready to be released form prison. Mason is the ideal caregiver, loving and competent with the teenagers and her.

Although many moments could be melancholic or downright tear-jerking in other hands, Cretton doesn't allow excessive sorrow to rule; rather, the sadness is mitigated by the small triumphs. Hey, that's just like real life.

This little indie will cure you of any longing for summer blockbusters and their half-billion-dollar entanglements. Short Term 12's situations are enough satisfying drama for ten Lone Rangers.
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Near Perfect Film
alexhughbrown5 September 2013
It's rare that a film moves you to tears and in the next moment makes you belly laugh, all within a context of a very real, grounded story.

This film has some of the strongest writing, acting, and directing I've seen in American cinema since American Beauty was released. Subtle, incredibly deep, and full of unsentimental heart and compassion. It's about people who have been damaged by the people who are supposed to protect them the most: their parents. And it's not just about that. It's about how the human spirit can, with care and respect, somehow sustain after such darkness. It's about real love.

This film is why I go to the movies. This film is why I've made my livelihood movies. Bravo Mr. Cretton and everyone involved with the film. I wish you nothing but the best.
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A great film
buzzbruin-650-40918325 August 2013
One of the few movies in my life I cried at. Due to some of my background I was moved by the subject matter. It is one of the most natural movies I have ever seen. The entire cast seemed like real people and not one of them seemed like an actor. Great movies plunge the viewer into real lives as if they suddenly discovered someone else's life in front of them. The writer/director also had balance in the story, The most emotional scenes had tremendous impact because the timing when they occurred was not suspected. The scenes were gut-wrenching and drove me to emotional experiences as if I was a person in the film. Thus, the tears. This may be a hard film for viewers to be involved with, but it is worth every minute of it. The private lives of the leaders were weaved into the film and gave great understanding to the people who ran the agency. The child acting was without a flaw, and I felt as if I knew them in real life. I urge you to see it, but prepare yourself for an emotional ride with people in dire circumstances. A simply great film!!
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The snub of the year
bigmystery2319 January 2014
After seeing this movie, I realized how the Academy works. If a movie doesn't have the budget to distribute their film to a vast amount of cities or campaign well, then it is unlikely to get its deserved recognition. I sat through the 96 minutes of this Indie film that got raved with impressive reviews at SXSW to see what the fuss was about. The people behind this movie deserve SO much more praise than they have gotten. This film, though not technically masterful, is emotionally wrenching. I laughed, I freaking cried my heart out, and overall it felt real. There was a connection to the film that was surprisingly amazing. The movie reminded me to Blue is the Warmest Color in the sense that it was raw, powerful, real, and astonishing. Brie Larson should have easily been one of the five nominees for Best Actress as well as Keith Stanfield for Best Supporting Actor. This film is a portrayal of neglected youth, a rare look at relationships, an articulation of the fears in the world, and a new point of view that most films have never shown before. I truly recommend this film to everyone, and will always give it the praise it deserves.
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May just be the best film of the year
howard.schumann24 November 2013
Real heroes do not always end up with glory and parades. Heroism is sometimes reflected in small scale actions that no one ever hears about but occur every day in schools, hospitals, or wherever there are people who need compassion. Werner Erhard defines true heroism as "the kind which ends up in the truth, in what works, in what is honest and real being brought out and made available to others." This kind of authenticity is front and center in Destin Cretton's Short Term 12, the story of troubled teens living in a short-term group home who are the recipients of empathy from counselors only a few years older who may have faced similar situations in their life.

Winner of the audience award at the L.A. Film Festival and South by Southwest as well as the narrative feature prize, it is funny and sad with a wide range of emotions in-between. Coming from the director's own experience of working in a similar environment for two years, the film is permeated with an air of authenticity and it is rare that a film has such uniformly natural performances. Grace (Brie Larson) is the staff supervisor at the home known only as Short Term 12, a designation reflecting the fact that the residents are supposed to be there for no more than a year, although many have been there longer. The longer they stay, however, the more traumatic it is for them to leave.

These are not "bad" kids though some may have had run-ins with the law. They are, more often than not, victims of parental abuse or neglect whose continuing to live at home would put them at risk. Most of the children are scared and have a lot of hidden anger but Cretton does not present them in a way that solicits our pity. They are who they are and we relate to them as fellow human beings. As Grace tells Nate (Rami Maledk), a new worker at the home, "We're not their parents or their therapists. We're just here to create a safe environment." These words seem to be lost on Nate, however, who, when introduced to the residents, says "I've always wanted to work with underprivileged kids," an insulting designation to which 17-year-old Marcus (Keith Stanfield) takes umbrage. Marcus, who is going to be discharged when he reaches 18, ready or not, elicits a stumbling apology from Nate who realizes his mistake.

Grace's boyfriend, Mason (John Gallagher), begins the film with a story about an embarrassing incident with a young runaway. The story, which is gross and off-putting, is interrupted by bells going off as a scrawny young boy, Sammy (Alex Calloway), a frequent runaway, makes a beeline for the gate but is intercepted before he can make it outside the property. Jayden, in an impeccable performance by Kaitlyn Dever, is a new arrival who has made previous suicide attempts. Expecting her father to take her home soon, she is surly and uncommunicative and is only able to communicate with Grace by means of a heartbreaking children's story she wrote about a shark and an octopus, a story with a hidden meaning that that Grace pick ups on.

Marcus, in another moving scene, sings a deeply felt rap song he created for Mason about "a life not knowing what a normal life's like." Although the children play a huge role in the film, the main focus is on Grace and how her work affects her life. We find out at the beginning that she is pregnant and has scheduled an appointment to have an abortion, but she is conflicted. She knows that Mason loves her and would be a good father but she has seen neglectful parents or worse in her own life and at the home and her built-up anger expresses itself in a memorable scene.

Short Term 12 could have become another film that sets out to inspire us through contrivance and manipulation. Under Cretton's direction, however, if there are tears to be shed, every one of them is earned. Though it (most likely) will not be remembered when awards are handed out at the end of the year, unlike many films with huge budgets and greater hype, it will remain with you after the others are long forgotten. Short Term 12 may just be the best film of the year.
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A passionate and powerful film headlined by Brie Larson's terrific performance.
Sergeant_Tibbs3 November 2013
At its core, Short Term 12 is a film about kids looking after kids. That youthful always-learning energy gives it a warmth and sincerity that's extremely endearing and a joy to watch these vulnerable and intriguing characters. It's about outcasts fitting in together and finding their place making it relatable for whenever you've felt alone and brings in a welcoming sense of community. It's Brie Larson's protagonist Grace who heads the entire ensemble on her shoulders. She gives a heartfelt performance, tough on the outside, swirling chaos on the inside, and she's able to get that on screen and develop it in every scene. In the way she is written, she shows the value of a nurturing character and how that can get the audience's sympathy regardless of any negative behaviour. The screenplay is terrific, juggling its arcs very efficiently and delivering comedy and drama in equal doses.

It can get too comical or sentimental at times but its overall maturity cancels it out. With its hand-held photography, it has a raw aesthetic that cuts through potential contrivances and predictability and gives it an involving sense of authenticity. The majority of the scenes are long and dialogue driven, often reflecting on short sharp outbursts or telling stories within the story be it an anecdote, rap or children's story read aloud. It provides an ideal pace and length it to feel brisk yet able to breathe and feel like a fulfilling 90 minutes. It's a film about catharsis and connection after deep repression, and the fact it's about young people makes the tragedies hurt more and the sense of hope more touching. It does have a bad habit of using the cliché of misplaced anger a bit too often, where a character furious at someone will instead hit those closest to them, but the deep rooted empathy for these characters allows those moments to feel at least somewhat justified as we feel that intense release with them.

The supporting performances are also fantastic, characters that although may follow a convention feel like they're coming from a genuine place. It's not often that a film like this would start its story with a relatively optimistic relationship as that dials down the potential for conflict, but John Gallagher Jr. and his chemistry with Larson makes it one we love watching and dread that moment where it inevitably goes wrong. Keith Stanfield is a standout from the younger crowd of actors whose powerful tenderness constantly gave me chills and Kaitlyn Denver who navigates around cliché and provides an earnest and passionate performance. Short Term 12 knows its deck has familiar cards, but it plays them just right. It's nice to have a film that knows that an original perspective is more engaging than original content. Despite its flaws, it's a really great emotional film and definitely the type of film I'd love to make.

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Heartwarming & Heartbreaking at the Same Time.
CinemaClown16 January 2014
Incredibly natural in its approach, wonderfully balanced from start to finish & further solidified by a convincing ensemble performances, Short Term 12 tells the story of Grace, a very caring & capable supervisor at a foster-care facility for at-risk teenagers. There are three story lines that emerge from this film; one is about Marcus, a quiet kid who's about to turn eighteen but doesn't want to leave the facility, the second plot line is about Jayden, a troubled teenage girl who's the latest member of the club. And the final & main plot line is about Grace herself, whose past returns to haunt her after meeting Jayden with whom she shares a connection plus the unexpected surprise she discovers that can have a major impact on her future, thus leaving her utterly confused with everything about her life.

The entire cast has given a brilliant performance, but it's Brie Larson who impresses the most as Grace and the film manages to portray her toughness & fragility evocatively. The locations are very lifelike, the entire film has a very calm & relaxed atmosphere for which the shooting location is responsible for, editing is finely done & it is smartly written & directed. On an overall scale, Short Term 12 is one of those dramas that are heartwarming & heartbreaking at the same time that will have you go through every emotion you're capable of and dares to deal with issues most people or families aren't very comfortable viewing or discussing about.
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Short Term 12 best film of SXSW
mackistner18 March 2013
I saw this film a couple days ago at SXSW and it is still difficult to put into words how I feel about it. This is a truly special film and was definitely the big WOW moment of the entire festival. The film won the Grand Jury and Audience Award for Narrative feature and it deserves the accolades 100%. The acting in this film is so honest and real that I felt like I was watching a documentary at times. This is easily a star making role for Brie Larson, John Gallager Jr., and Kaitlyn Dever. All are young stars on the rise and I hope this film helps progress their careers in the right direction, because they all deserve it.

The film tells the story of Grace (Larson) and her coworkers as they work at a dysfunctional foster care facility. There are many characters in the film, specifically the kids in the foster care, and each and every character with a speaking role is a completely fleshed out, multi- dimensional character. It was easy to connect with every character since you really felt for their difficult life situation and it was riveting to see these characters interact with each other in a realistic way.

I don't want to say too much about the film, but there are some very moving scenes that definitely made me tear up. This is a very emotional film and you could feel the passion that was put into it by the cast and filmmakers. I believe wholeheartedly that this movie deserves Oscar buzz, specifically in Screenplay and some of the acting categories. The audience reaction as the credits rolled was one of the warmest receptions at SXSW that I experienced this year and multiple people gave it a standing ovation.

I cannot wait to see this film again, definitely the best of the festival and one of the best first features by a director that I've ever seen. This is going to be a very important film in 2013 and I cannot wait to see what is in store for the film, the director, and these talented young rising actors. You will be a better person for seeing this film. Just see it.
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Forget about the Squid and The Whale, the Octopus raps!
estebangonzalez1011 January 2014
"You need to get ready because it's so unbelievable it's going to seem fake, but I promise you it's not, Grace will vouch for me...It's a storytellers wet dream."

Every once in a while a surprising film like Short Term 12 comes around reminding me why I love cinema so much. This is only my second five star review from 2013 and this small indie absolutely hit all the right notes with me taking me through a wide range of emotions thanks to its perfect balanced mix of comedy and touching drama. I was drawn to these characters from the very opening scene and was completely engaged with the story. Having visited a foster care facility a couple times last year and spent some time with kids going through similar situations, this film really hit home and helped me empathize more with them. In a way I kind of felt like Nate, the new counselor in this film who didn't connect right away with the kids and there was not much he could do to help considering he had no idea where they were coming from. On the other hand, the two other counselors, Grace and Mason, really connected with the children because they came from similar backgrounds and understood how they were feeling. Short Term 12 writer and director, Destin Cretton, uses this film as a vehicle to let the viewer have a better understanding of the social situation these kids go through. I don't know if this would've worked so well if it weren't for the incredibly touching performances from the cast. Brie Larson is so great in this film, she hit all the right notes, and in some way she reminded me of Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone. She has that same potential and her career will definitely take off after this. She deserves an Oscar nomination because she's that good. Her co-lead, John Gallagher Jr. also delivers a terrific performance and if we haven't heard much about him it's because Larson steals most of the thunder here. Even the kids in this film were terrific and that's why I'm giving this film the highest possible grade because it does everything right.

Grace (Brie Larson) is one of the young counselors at Short Term 12, a foster care facility for at risk teenagers. Along with Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), with whom she's in a relationship, they look after these kids who have come from a troubled past. The film opens with Mason welcoming a new counselor named Nate (Rami Malek), and he shares a story with him about his first day which didn't go too great. Then they introduce some of the kids to him: there's Marcus (Keith Stanfield) who's about to turn 18 and therefor will be leaving the facility soon, Sammy (Alex Calloway) who's going through a deep psychological trauma, and Luis (Kevin Hernandez) who's easygoing but enjoys bullying Marcus. A few days later a new teenage girl named Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) arrives at the foster care center who seems to be deeply scarred. Grace begins to connect with her and realizes they have come from a similar past. Grace and Mason are both excellent counselors, mostly because they have come from a troubled past themselves, and despite helping these kids they also have to deal with their own scars in life if they want their relationship to work.

I loved the way that Cretton decided to open the film with Mason telling Nate a story, and then deciding to end it with another one. The structure of this film was just perfectly executed and I loved the balance it maintained. There were several different plots going on as each kid was going through different problems. The final scene in this film literally gave me goose bumps all over my body. Many people had an issue with it ending with such a positive note, but I thought it was perfect. Larson is a major reason why this film worked so well, her character Grace is just that: a graceful person who is doing her best to help these kids while at the same time trying to deal with her own demons. Dever and Stanfield also deliver powerful secondary performances and each one of them shares a memorable scene with one of their counselors as they try to express their feelings through different ways: Marcus does so by rapping and Jayden by reading a story. These two scenes are extremely powerful and emotional and they stand out in the film without feeling forceful or manipulative at all. This film just has so much heart and it's no surprise it has such a high rating (99% on Rottentomatoes) because it really is a vivid portrait that draws us in to these characters troubled lives in the pursuit and need of healing. Brie Larson's Grace has just become my favorite heroine of the year. That octopus story will stick with me forever, there was a lot of powerful stuff in this film.
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Here We Go
ferguson-68 September 2013
Greetings again from the darkness. "An indie gem" is meant to be a term of respect for a little movie that manages to make an emotional connection, usually while being screened at a film festival or in a very limited and brief theatrical run. The best ones drive us to encourage everyone we know to take the time to see it. Such is writer/director Destin Cretton's latest.

Some movies offer a promising premise and then let us down with faulty execution. Short Term 12 is actually better than its premise would lead you to expect. Credit goes to Mr. Cretton's quasi-documentary directorial style, tremendous acting from support characters played by John Gallagher Jr (Mason), Kaitlyn Dever (Jayden), and Keith Stanfield (Marcus), and a stunning lead performance from rising star Brie Larson (Grace).

Grace and Mason help run a foster care facility. We witness first hand their daily work with the kids, some of it quite mundane ... though other moments incredibly powerful. Grace and Marcus have their own personal connections to this way of life, and also happen to be in a relationship that seems built on avoiding the communication and connection that goes into their daily jobs.

The use of art as a communication device plays a role throughout. Marcus uses his rap lyrics, newcomer Jayden draws and writes children's stories. These two kids are particularly important because they also mirror the inner sanctum of Mason and Grace, and we see these people all battle demons in hope of living a "normal" life. This is not a story of saints and sinners ... these are just people coming to grip with the deck they've been dealt.

You will recognize Gallagher from his work on HBO's "Newsroom", and Dever made quite an impression in her time on "Justified". Larson's star is on the rise thanks to her presence in The Spectacular Now and Don Jon, as well as some upcoming projects. She IS what critics have been trying make Greta Gerwig ... an actress who breathes life into character we feel we know.
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Great Acting in an absorbing drama
jaymcguinness28 November 2018
Short Term 12 is a powerful and moving drama that leaves you with warm feelings on conclusion. It depicts the personal struggles of a group of teenagers in supported care and their carers.

Dramas of this sort can sometimes leave you feeling gloomy and have a depressing feel. It certainly has dark moments of personal struggle, dealing in mental health, domestic abuse, self harm and suicide but the standard of acting and ending of the movie most definitely leave you feeling positive.

What stands out most about this film however is the cast. There are several strong performances even from the supporting cast with minor screen time. Brie Larson in the lead role excels. A breakout performance in a slow moving drama. One particular scene that comes to mind is the scene with Frantz Turner playing Jack. The outburst is a culmination of her protecting Jayden (played very well by Kaitlyn Dever) who she has begun to understand and create a close bond with, along with her own personal life frustrations. It is Jayden and not her boyfriend, despite his attempts, who allow Grace to open up and deal with her own personal struggles and her past. John Gallagher Jnr, who I had not seen much of prior to this movie also puts in an understated performance as the caring and supporting boyfriend and provides a few moments of comedic relief throughout the drama. I should also mention his scene at his foster family birthday celebration. The scene is only short but the emotion he displays in saying thank you to his foster parents was powerful. This is also one of the early roles for Rami Malek, who has now gone on like Brie to much more significant roles. He doesn't have much screen time in this and no particular scenes of note. Other than Brie however I believe Lakeith Stanfield as Marcus puts in the best performance. His backstory doesn't get as much time as Jayden and it is less central to the plot of the film which is mainly the Grace/Jayden/Mason arc, but all of his scenes are very strong and he is very believable.
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Living a life not knowing what a normal life's like.
lastliberal-853-25370826 January 2014
It's not just the residents in this home that are damaged. To some degree, the staff comes here with their own life experiences that are just as damaging as those they care for. Maybe being damaged is what attracts people to the work - I certainly saw it often in psychology and counseling classes.

Grace (Brie Larson), the supervisor, is certainly dealing with a damaged past. It is probably what makes her good at her job, but it does cause her problems. It's balancing the two that makes one successful.

Cutting, anger, withdrawal, are all things you will see in these children/young adults. They are manifestations of their unnatural upbringing. Marcus (Keith Stanfield) is terrified at the prospect of going out on his own. Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) guards her secret past, while Grace tries to pry it open.

Every day is a challenge, and the worst part is not ever knowing if you were successful.
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A wonderfully heartfelt film- A much watch!!
oisintomas2 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The film is set in a short term foster-care facility for at-risk teens and follows trials and tribulations of the teens living their and staff members Grace (Larson) and Mason (Gallagher Jr.) who take care of them. When a new child arrives at the facility, it forces Grace to confront her troubled past whilst continuing her struggle in preparing soon-to-be 18 Marcus (Keith Stanfield) for life outside of the care facility.

The film is inspired by Cretton's experience of working in a foster-care facility for young people and this helps the film tell an emotionally honest and heart-wrenching story, avoiding most of the tropes and clichés common in these type of films. It was met with critical acclaim when was first released and won the Grand Jury Narrative Feature Award and the Narrative Audience Award at South by Southwest Film festival.

Short Term 12 features masterful storytelling, its tightly scripted with natural everyday dialogue that comes across as real and improvised and is cemented by true to life , seemingly effortless and naturalistic form of acting with performances so-convincing it almost makes you feel like your watching a documentary. There are no one dimensional characters in the film and each feel authentic. In particular Brie Larson gives a impressive and awe-inspiring performance as grace a caring and loving young women with heavy baggage from her past locked up tight and bursting at the seams due to her inability to trust and open up to people. She was nominated for numerous accolades for her performance in the film and won Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actress.

The two scenes that bookend the film were particularly interesting. The film opens with Mason telling Nate (a new worker in the facility) and Jessica an embarrassing and comedic story of his first week working at the facility. This excellently establishes the friendships between the characters with natural interaction between them which is a pleasure to watch. Before mason finishes telling the story, a child in his underpants with American flag wrapped around him like a Cape, busts out and makes a run for the exit. The ending scene also contains mason telling a funny story and again the story is interrupted by Sammy running for the exit. This excellently reinforces the naturalistic style of the film as it shows the audience that the narrative includes the everyday struggles of the characters and that there are no easy solutions.

Additionally the scenes are similar but the differences effectively showcase how things have subtly changed. It particular they show how our relationship to the characters have evolved. at the start of the movie, we were in the shoes of Nate (not knowing what to expect) . At the end, we are more familiar with the characters and have a better understanding of what happens at the facility.

The film is shot predominantly using hand-held cameras and consists mostly of medium and close-ups shots.The shots are tightly framed and this help make the viewer feel as close to the emotions on screen as possible. The camera is a patient, unobtrusive presence among the characters and the almost observational style also strengthens the audience's emotional connection to the characters in the film.

Though some may criticize the rather convenient and perfect intertwining of individual narratives and struggles throughout the film as well as its irrepressible sense of optimism, I feel the film sticks to his naturalistic style effectively, never becoming melodramatic or unbelievable. The various revelations that occur throughout the film come to us organically in characters' conversation and it has beautifully crafted lighting which gives a warm glow to the film and a beautiful sense of optimism. In the hands of a less talented director, the film could have felt overly-sentimental and syrupy but instead feels brutally honest with the right amount of grit and grace.

In closing short term 12 is a marvel of a film. It is perfectly scripted piece of drama that features wonderful performances and a genuine and heartfelt story that will stick with you long after you watch the film.
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And the shark replied, "because that's what friends are for."
headfors31 January 2015
I have never watched the short one that this film was made of by Cretton and I found about this film by accident and I can say that this was one fine accident I did. So Short Term 12 is I would say one terrific film, it's not flawless but it got all the right stuff done how it should be; from acting: I'm looking at you Brie Larson, would say Oscar worthy performance, but she did even better then that. The way how she showed those anxiety attacks seemed so real to me. I don't usually cry at movies, but this movie got me chocked up pretty few times through the 90 minutes of film. So just go and watch this movie if you already didn't watched it because it's really good, hard, but real and not Hollywood-ish!
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When I say I love something ...
iwritewell10 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
It is not hyperbole. I love this movie . This movie is so me that the Actress and I share the same name. This is a pure film , beautiful , well written , well acted , subtle , and funny. Yes . Funny as hell , in that indie film going to Sundance kind of way.

Grace ( Brie Larson) is a troubled young woman . A woman for whom life has not been easy . She chooses to not hide from that pain but to embrace it , I think without even realizing it , by working and loving other people that are also troubled. Her job as little boss of the Short Term 12 center has her face to face with realities of life. Her relationship with another worker Mason ( John Gallagher Jr) who was also a foster child also runs in that " hiding in plain sight" pattern.

In one week Grace finds that she is pregnant, is about to lose one of her charges to "aging out" of the system and meets a near mirror image to her self as a youth she quietly begins to lose her grip. She has never fully revealed to Mason, for instance , the depth of her pain . As it becomes clear , to us if not to her , that holding in the pain of her childhood continues to hurt her she is confronted by tragedy. Marcus ( Keith Stanfield) tries to commit suicide after the death of his pet fish. After that we finally know all the truth of Grace and why she is who she is. It isn't heavy handed it just is. Like real life .

I don't know how to end this except to say the following: GO SEE THIS MOVIE . see it now , when it is under the radar or see it in January after the Oscar nominations come rolling in for this quiet and beautiful film.
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What a magical film.
charlesgough11 March 2014
I started watching this film with no idea what is was about or what to expect. I'm happy to say I was blown away. I wish I hadn't watched it just so I could watch it for the first time again. What a beautiful story so well told, so touching and real. It makes me happy to know that films like this are still being made. Every single actor's performance was phenomenal. The cinematography is just right to match the mood and feeling of the story. I laughed, I cried, I felt such empathy for the characters even though I cannot personally relate to their circumstances. I would recommend this to anyone who likes heartfelt movies or good story well told.
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FANTASTIC. Most underrated movie of the year
jenniferwitkowski29 January 2014
Pardon me being a bit bias in this, as I work with this population of youngsters, but this is the MOST accurate movie portraying the lives of the young kids that I have EVER seen.

Its dramatic, but TRUTHFUL. These are the things that I see kids deal with on a daily basis. So many of our "throw away kids" aren't throw away at all, its just their parents are pieces of *insert your favorite curse here* and the children get thrown by the wayside.

Grace (Brie Larson) does a phenomenal job of portraying a woman who cares almost too much for her kids to her own detriment, while dealing with her own inner demons. Mason (John Gallagher) does a wonderful job of playing the balancing role. Hes sweet, kind, but has a limit of his own. The chemistry between the two is completely believable WONDERFUL film, surely made me shed a few tears. Hopefully it will alter your views a bit on our foster kids, and reach out and give them a chance.
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Occasionally harrowing, but also sentimental look at foster care treatment facility, lacks an identifiable antagonist
Turfseer19 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Destin Cretton's script about a foster care treatment facility was a 2010 Nichol Fellowship winner. It's an earnest, feel-good effort which mainly focuses on its protagonist, Grace (Brie Larson), a 20 something counselor at the facility. She's in charge of a group of dysfunctional teenagers, who exhibit varying degrees of self-destructive behavior.

Grace herself is a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her father, who we soon learn will be released from a correctional facility after serving time due to Grace's testimony against him. Grace is involved in a relationship with another co-worker counselor, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), who was raised by warm, loving foster parents, in contrast to Grace's damaged upbringing. Part of the plot involves Grace's internal arc, as she struggles whether to have an abortion, following an unexpected pregnancy. You can probably guess what she ultimately decides to do about having the baby.

The bulk of 'Short Term 12' concerns Grace and Mason's struggle to help the kids in their charge. The staff eschews a punitive approach when dealing with the kids and are also bound by state laws that prohibit them from bringing them back to the facility, if they leave the grounds. Hence, there are a number of dramatic scenes where the counselors engage in mad dashes to try and prevent one particularly dysfunctional kid from exiting the perimeter.

Probably the greatest strength of the film is the depiction of the meltdown of two particularly distressed teenagers: Marcus, an aspiring rap artist and Jayden, a teenage girl, who Grace suspects is being physically and sexually abused by her father. There are dark moments for both of the teenagers: Marcus attempts suicide and Jayden is taken home by her father on a weekend pass, where presumably she's being abused. Naturally, there is the obligatory happy-ending for both of them: Marcus eventually gets himself together and hooks up with a former beauty who attended the facility (this story happens off-screen and is related to us by Mason at film's end); and Jayden is saved after Grace convinces her to testify to social service agency officials about the abuse, at the hands of her father.

'Short Term 12' suffers most from the lack of an identifiable antagonist. We never do get to meet either Grace of Jayden's father, who are depicted as uncaring monsters. By fleshing either one of them out (or both), and linking them organically to the plot, Mr. Cretton's narrative, could have been way more dramatic and exciting. Instead, Cretton loses sight of creating more complex characters by getting too emotionally involved in his subject matter. Probably the weakest scene is when Grace links her own crisis of the impending release of her father from prison to Jayden's, breaking into her father's home, and almost ending up bashing him over the head with a baseball bat. Instead, Grace and Jayden take turns bashing in the window of the deep asleep father's car. Yes, we understand that Cretton doesn't like abusers, but he never introduces any of them to us as real human beings.

Finally, it's nice to know that the caring efforts of Grace and Mason pay off in the end, but how realistic is that? Often what happens is that dysfunctional kids, those who have been oppressed by abusive parents, become abusers themselves. Hence, the old dictum of the oppressed becoming the oppressors, seems to be missing here. How about a kid who Grace and Mason can't save, and is just plain evil? It's another opportunity missed to introduce a credible antagonist.

As a first feature effort, Destin Cretton has created a fairly credible look at what goes on in some foster care treatment facilities today. With a little more seasoning, Mr. Cretton may break into the film business, as a full-time director. He certainly knows how to direct his actors and work with a cinematographer. Cretton needs to be a little less sentimental and work at developing a full-fledged antagonist, when he develops his sophomore effort.
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Being a product of circumstance over free thinking.
supatube17 March 2014
I will have to agree with the boredom rating of this film. It's one of those films that does well at festivals because viewers tend to soak up aspects wholeheartedly in that type of setting whereas home viewing does not, i can put something else on, and although I endeavored to watch it to the end, like all films, I was not enthralled. Its slow, and boring, with so much music rolling over every scene. It may be an indie film but it is definitely not a cult classic, there is just nothing to 'love' about it, and by definition alone a cult needs to be loved or at least liked and this film will just not reach that kind of status.


The acting - Great, but hardly off the wall to make it cultist in the slightest.

The story - Hardly avant-garde, not thought provoking, slow, depressing, infuriating... clearly the ingredients for a spellbound time...? lacking cultishness, obviously. But in the end its a story that has been told before, of an ineffective system and it's tiring watching weak people in a bad system.

The filming - Its not groundbreaking, in fact its so late 90's its not even original.

Music - incessant, and unflinching in trying to keep the tone lighthearted.

Short Term 12 doesn't come close to holding a candle to the likes of "12 Years a Slave", "Gravity" or "Her". The days of slow paced Oscar winners was not for 2014, and rightfully so. If "Rush" wasn't getting a nomination, or "Stoker" then I hardly see it fit to garnish one to a mediocre drama that shows more pros for indifference than excellence.
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Emotionally Devastating
DylanKalaydjian12 December 2015
Short Term 12 is easily the best film of 2013. It's charming, brisk, funny, thrilling, romantic, and emotionally devastating; but in the best way possible. To be clear, I cried twice while watching this. Twice. Maybe it's because I'm a little soft, but it represents life in a brilliantly beautiful light. The performances are all excellent; Katilyn Dever and John Gallagher Jr. are great, but Brie Larson is the real standout. In one of her earlier breakout roles, her performance as Grace is phenomenal. The supporting cast, including Raimi Malek, Stephanie Beatriz and Keith Standfield, is also extremely strong. What makes this film special though is the way that it is both incredibly moving yet also heartbreaking; to be honest, it may take a while for me to watch this film again. There are pivotal scenes difficult to watch, simply because they're so emotional. Short Term 12 is devastating, uplifting, inspiring, excellently cast, beautiful and one of my favourite films of all time.
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Cinema that pretends to be good.
Harrybalzak15 January 2014
Just because you play unoffensive modern folk music over the top of long, slightly shifting, pseudo-humbling camera shots doesn't automatically mean you've made the American indie film of the year.

It's a boring screenplay about an unrealistic public health center for unrealistic archetypal children with 'family issues' headed by generic heroine Brie Larson who attempts to balance her cliché life in a quest to find meaning.

Come here to watch, feel good and be suckered once again by public health propaganda.

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Just great
mrshev7 March 2015
Sometimes you stumble upon a film that sounds okay but doesn't grab you but you watch anyway and this is one of those films. A sparkling and amazing tale about real people suffering real (or imagined) problems and living with them or dealing with them in the real world.

Wonderful writing, great acting and superb casting make this film almost like a documentary and I watch the Oscars and I scratch my head and think: what the hell were they watching? Surely they watch more films than I do because this is a belter and the Academy should be ashamed of themselves for not shortlisting it.

Anyway, watch it.
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The short term quickly becomes the agonizingly (too) long
j_smith_78 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I read all the reviews I could find about this movie before I decided to go to see it. Given that the vast majority of the reviews I read gave the film a very positive thumbs up, I was expecting something at least above average.

Sadly, it turns out to be a very ham-fisted affair with 'the message' being hammered into you in a way that leaves you wishing that you'd chosen to scrape old paint off a chair in the rain outside in November rather than watch this.

Irrespective of the 'novelty' of the subject matter, clichés abound here. The whispered scenes to show 'sincerity' between the characters (when oh when will directors realize that no people - no people on Earth - speak that way in real life?). Long, lingering scenes of the principal character (I watched for the full 97 minutes and never even bothered to listen to find out whatever her name is) in the shower cleansing away 'the pain'. And an innumerable number of scenes where someone whispers, 'We really need to talk about this...' 'You have no idea what I'm going through right now...' 'I can't help you if you won't let me in...' And as for the kid choosing to slash his wrists at 1 hour, having given this film that much of my time, I understood exactly why he did that.

All in all, I feel I wasted my time watching this. The only thing I can say to potential viewers of this film is...well...don't.
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Way over-rated !!
johntheholder14 January 2014
This film offers no innovation. No theme depicted in it , is something we haven't already seen. And even if you skip this, it still is prone to criticism negatively.

The direction , meaning the camera angles and motions is fine ( i guess).

Cinematography is Documentary -style , not very pleasant and entertaining.

The script or plot or story , is indifferent, amateur , hipsterish , and weak. The lead actors aren't right for this kind of film , maybe cause they're too young. But the whole plot is just bad. A group home with a couple of troubled teenagers and a couple adults running the show. So what?

The way the film develops , no development happens in a way to make you care for whatever you're watching. I didn't care about these people , and the things that happened to them. Instead of caring , i got bored and wanted this film to end.

And i wouldn't be that harsh a critic if this movie had a lower rating. Maybe a 6.5 rating , which makes it decent and indifferent which is exactly what it is ( not that there aren't movies i find great with a 6.5 rating , just speaking of average)

But lately the newer movies , get high ratings easily.

Over 8 , means the movie is pretty much a masterpiece. This one is far from that.

Assume you've been warned people. Cheers !
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Agonizingly Dull, boring shallow characters, Jiggly Cam, and tedium for all
matrix2918 January 2014
Wow, so this movie was about a Foster Care home? So far I've watched a full hour of the 90 minute movie and seriously I cannot name a single one of the characters.

We have beardy guy who tells an opening tell of following an escaped kid off campus and then beardy poops himself on the bus. It gets interrupted by a kid trying to sprint off grounds.

That is the high point of the long dull tale. No joke.

Then we meet the kids (names not remembered at all). The story then drags on in a dreamy Jiggly Cam manner for 50 more minutes. We meet the black untalented rapper who mumbles (that's his entire characterization). We meet the self-cutter girl who has zero value to the story until an hour later when she tells a rip-off octopus & shark themed knockoff tale of "The Giving Tree". The main female staff character reveals she is pregnant with beardy guy's baby and has no value to the story for about 60 minutes into it and the camera follows her every dull minute of existence.

These characters are shallower than beer coasters and less interesting than anything that you'd find written on a beer coaster.

You can keep about 8 minutes of the movie start, cut out 50 minutes of the movie after that and lose nothing at all. It picks up at about 65 minutes in, but frankly I think any audience not watching this on Cable TV or the Internet has all walked away by now. In fact, I am walking away from this movie after enduring 73 minutes of DULL DULL DULL moron-characters. It has no reward so far for enduring it at all.
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