Short Term 12

September 3, 2013 at 10:51 am | Posted in 2013 | 2 Comments
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I am not one to get overly emotional during a film but this one touched me really deeply, perhaps because of my years of experience with kids like these.  The story covers what appears to be a few months in the lives of the kids and staff at a group home.  It focuses primarily on two staff members, Grace & Mason, played by Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr and two of the residents, Marcus and Jayden, played by Keith Stanfield and Kaitlyn Dever.  Grace & Mason are a young couple, both of whom have been drawn to this work because of their own life experiences. Marcus and Jayden are two deeply troubled kids who can’t figure out how to communicate their pain.   What happens along the story arc is fairly predictable but this isn’t a detective story and doesn’t need to surprise the audience.  Instead, it shows a sort of truth that is often missing in film.  Every one of these characters is so fully realized and believable (with the possible exception of the program manager who is a bit of a one-dimensional stereotype; fortunately, his role is small).  This is a cast of basic unknowns.  The most well-known actor, Larson, has done bit parts in films like “Scott Pilgrim Vs The World” and “21 Jump Street”. Gallagher is known primarily for his role in HBO’s “The Newsroom”.  Dever has also done some small bit work and this is Stanfield’s first feature length film (he was also in the the short film that this movie was based on).  Yet all of these actors do a fantastic job of portraying their characters’ humor, pain, strength and vulnerability.  I loved watching them inhabit these people so fully.  Having worked with emotionally disturbed kids, I can tell you there is real truth in how these kids act on screen.  If I have one complaint, it is that problems resolve a bit too quickly and things wrap up a bit too neatly.  It’s an understandable conceit for a Hollywood movie that is striving for the mainstream but, to my mind, it keeps this really good film from being a great one.


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  1. Good review. Very emotional movie, but it never feels cheap or tired with those emotions. They’re raw, unrelenting, and understandable, in all of the best ways possible.

  2. Well said. Thanks for the comment.

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