Short Term 12 feels like one of those films where everything has come together perfectly to make a movie as good as the sum of its parts. A strong up and coming cast featuring Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr. (Newsroom) and Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) are at the centre of one of the most personal films in recent memory.
When Kaitlyn Dever’s troubled teen Jayden arrives at a children’s home she turns Brie Larson’s care worker Grace’s world upside down (to use film parlance for a second). Whilst Dever is very capable for such a young actress this is absolutely Larson’s film. In a role so captivating it brings to mind Ryan Goslings breakout role in Half Nelson or even Natalie Portman in Black Swan, Brie Larson channels a young Jennifer Lawrence and builds on an earlier strong performance in The Spectacular Now. Larson is in turn matriarchal and vulnerable and it is surprising that the Academy didn’t come knocking for such a believable and heart breaking performance.
Having worked in care myself I know how frustrating it is when bureaucracy and greed make it harder to help those in need and Larson perfectly encapsulates that frustration. The films realism is no surprise as rookie director Destin Daniel Cretton worked in a home for at risk teenagers and he captures the highs and lows perfectly, particularly the ridiculous notion that doctors and therapists who may see a patient once a month, are in a better position to make life changing decisions, than those who spend 12 hours a day in their company.
In summary Short Term 12 is beautifully written, has a strong supporting cast and an Oscar worthy turn in the lead role from Brie Larson. One of the best films I have seen this year.