Short Term 12 Reviews

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Ben Sachs
Chicago Reader
December 10, 2013
Set in a foster-care facility outside of San Francisco, this independent drama is vivid and heartfelt in its depiction of social work, at times recalling some of Frederick Wiseman's great documentary portraits.
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Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
November 15, 2013
The film's climax feels a little rushed and overwrought, but the movie's real resonance is its exploration of empathy and vocation.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
November 14, 2013
At times Short Term 12 seems uncertain where it's going, but this matches the circumstances of both staff and residents.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Tom Huddleston
Time Out
October 29, 2013
There's heart, soul and personality to burn in 'Short Term 12' ... But this is a film that, like many of its young characters, desperately needs to calm down.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Tom Long
Detroit News
September 20, 2013
"Short Term 12" is a sly wonder of a film. It brings you into its unique world and then slowly reveals its characters, letting them unfold gradually, organically.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Richard Roeper
Chicago Sun-Times
September 13, 2013
It's one of the best movies of the year and one of the truest portrayals I've ever seen about troubled teens and the people who dedicate their lives to trying to help them.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
September 13, 2013
Short Term 12 captures the complex rhythms of institutional life -- for worker and inhabitant -- while weaving the story of Grace's journey through anguish toward, we hope, happiness.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
September 13, 2013
"Short Term 12" may sound like confinement, but it's a redemptive and even funny film that invites us to stay and grow.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Kristin Tillotson
Minneapolis Star Tribune
September 12, 2013
This surprising little sleeper will give you more big feelings in its first 15 minutes than every one of last summer's blockbusters combined.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
September 12, 2013
Don't be put off by its forgettable title. Short Term 12 is a deeply memorable film.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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John Hartl
Seattle Times
September 5, 2013
"Short Term 12" is the kind of teen-oriented movie that's often dismissed as an "after-school special," but thanks to a nimble young cast it's frequently better than that.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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John Anderson
Newsday
September 5, 2013
Tender, funny and real as a kick in the ribs.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Christopher Orr
The Atlantic
September 5, 2013
A compact masterpiece of storytelling that brims equally with ambition and humility. It is, by a wide margin, the best film I have seen so far this year.
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
August 30, 2013
This is a film about hurt and healing, isolation and fear, need and rage - and it's not just the motley, messed-up crew of 14- and 15-year-olds who are trying to cope, trying to get better.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
August 29, 2013
Any director who sees "Short Term 12" will want to cast Larson in something. This movie puts her on the map.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
August 29, 2013
It's a lovely, tough-minded film.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
August 29, 2013
"Short Term 12" is that rare movie gutsy enough to tell the truth about love: that it's not a poetic longing or a magical-thinking happy ending, but a skill. And, the film suggests, we all have the capacity to learn it.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
August 29, 2013
An emotionally authentic examination of the lives of those who live in and work at a children's home where the lines between the inhabitants and the caretakers isn't as clear as one might suppose.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Michael Sragow
Orange County Register
August 29, 2013
This movie has the dash and esprit of service comedies like MASH and the harrowing emotions of misunderstood youth films like The 400 Blows.
Full Review | Original Score: A
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Barbara VanDenburgh
Arizona Republic
August 29, 2013
An authentic drama couched in character that never stoops to manipulation.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
August 26, 2013
I know, it sounds like one of those earnest inspirational good-hygiene movies. On one level, it is. But the exchanges are electric.
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Dana Stevens
Slate
August 23, 2013
When Short Term 12 reaches its last scene, the lump it leaves in your throat feels earned.
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Christy Lemire
RogerEbert.com
August 23, 2013
"Short Term 12" comes from a place of delicate and truthful understatement, which allows the humanity and decency of its characters-and, yes, the lessons-to shine through naturally.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
August 23, 2013
Rehab movies nearly always make me cringe, as if the audience needs to take medicine, as if hope needs to be force fed. Short Term 12, an exceptional film in every way, breaks the mold.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
August 23, 2013
Cretton pulls off a tricky balancing act in "Short Term 12,'' which could easily have become a colossal downer if played to melodramatic excess.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
August 22, 2013
The dominant style of the acting is naturalistic, but Brie Larson, operating in another realm, creates a marvelously complex heroine.
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Manohla Dargis
New York Times
August 22, 2013
Even as the gathering melodramatic storms threaten to swamp this pungent slice of life, Mr. Cretton manages to earn your tears honestly.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
August 22, 2013
Short Term 12 wraps up with one of the most touchingly memorable last moments of any film this year. Despite a title that's hard to recall, this brief but resonant movie sticks with you.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
August 22, 2013
The film is a quiet sensation.
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
August 22, 2013
"Short Term 12" is a small wonder, a film of exceptional naturalness and empathy that takes material about troubled teenagers and young adults that could have been generic and turns it into something moving and intimate.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
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Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
August 22, 2013
In showing us all the richness and tenderness and passion that's possible in young lives that have pretty much been discarded by ordinary society, Cretton invites us - in the kindest possible spirit! - to question our own privilege.
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Mike D'Angelo
AV Club
August 22, 2013
Larson, in particular, does wonders with a character who in other hands could easily have come across as overly earnest, even saccharine... It's a superb performance that deserved a more credible, less jerry-rigged context.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
August 21, 2013
The situation has a built-in heartbreak, but Cretton doesn't milk it. Instead, he lets each character strike a note of lived-in reality that is rarely found on screen.
Full Review | Original Score: A
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Matthew Kassel
New York Observer
August 20, 2013
Short Term 12 strikes a delicate balance between emotional turbulence and artful understatement.
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David Fear
Time Out
August 20, 2013
You'd have to go back to Half Nelson to find such a beautifully organic combo of spot-on performances, tough-love storytelling and tender treatment of deep-rooted emotional damage.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Inkoo Kang
Village Voice
August 20, 2013
Easily one of the best films so far this year, it's a nearly perfect blend of pimple-faced naturalism, righteous moral fury, nuanced social insight, and unsentimental but devastating drama.
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Richard Brody
New Yorker
July 1, 2013
Subtly inverting the story's point of view, Cretton sees his protagonists through the eyes of the teens and gets to the ineffable core of trust.
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Peter Debruge
Variety
May 6, 2013
Short Term 12 is a film about scars, some physical, others emotional, but all examined with a sensitivity and understanding that cuts deep.
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John DeFore
Hollywood Reporter
May 6, 2013
Affecting drama about troubled kids is a breakout for Brie Larson without losing its ensemble balance.
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William Goss
Film.com
March 14, 2013
Larson's performance is something of a quiet revelation, and the same could be said of the film itself.