Short Term 12 - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Short Term 12 Reviews

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½ August 22, 2016
To be unassuming is not always a bad thing cinematically. A film with a natural aesthetic needs to rely on its actors and scenarios to anchor it, tighten it, draw you into its world and fell for that world's inhabitants. Short Term 12 has a typically underwhelming opening, but one perhaps rife for larger metaphor.
As a bunch of camp workers stand around sharing a rather crude story, we get a sense of a very relaxed, mumblecore tone being established. They are a bunch of late twentysomethings, directionless, moping about and telling stories. It is the kind of indie film pastiche seen many time. Yet suddenly, a disturbed child rushes from an adjacent door and hurtles towards an exit. Suddenly, there is panic and shouting, the mood becomes tense. This is the essence of Short Term 12 . From the relaxed tone of mumblecore comes real shock and, occasionally, real darkness.
Yes, the camp is a camp for troubled youths. Where escape attempts are but minor worries when put in context of suicide attempts. Indeed, any plot arch that attempts to reach outside the realm of the camp almost seems futile. For instance, I'm struggling to even remember the presence of a romance between Grace (Brie Larsen) and Mason (John Gallagher Jr) after the fact, as the discussion will no doubt center so strongly on the scene involving the teens. Petty squabbles become major threats, and any attempt to get to close to troubled youths may be dangerous.
The film's universe carries the sort of consequences inherent to a war film. A rap performance in particular may leave you breathless; a scene in which the teens decorate a fellow housemates walls carries devastating weight. Yet, the film has an optimistic undercurrent, one that manifests in the viewer a possible fulfillment amidst emotional exhaustion.
½ August 15, 2016
With SPECTRE and THE HUNGER GAMES dominating the box office of late, the cinemas won't be showing anything worth our time and money until STAR WARS arrives in three weeks' time. That makes it a good time to look at some gems that may have missed our attention. One of these is SHORT TERM 12, which was released in 2013 but never made it to Hong Kong. It stars Brie Larson, a name that may not mean much to you now but will very soon. Her latest film, ROOM, was released in the US yesterday and should make it to our shores in early 2016. The advance word on the film is extremely positive. It has been playing the festival circuit since September and has already racked up eight awards there. I mentioned Brie in one of my early reviews, DON JON. She has a very small part in that film but she makes it a memorable one. She also appeared in THE SPECTACULAR NOW, which was one of my favourite films of 2014.

Grace (Larson) works as a supervisor at a short-term group home for emotionally broken teenagers. The kids are supposed to stay there for less than a year - until the county figures out what to do with them - but, as we learn, some, like Marcus (Keith Stanfield), are there for more than three years. Grace and her three fellow counsellors have a huge job on their hands and it wouldn't be surprising if they cracked under pressure but they all seem to be able to handle each day's challenges with a heady mix of professionalism, empathy, humour, gravity and a bit of exhaustion. Grace, herself, is soft-spoken but she's not afraid to enforce the facility's rules - no closed doors, no profanity spoken, and no unauthorised leaving. Thankfully, most of the kids understand the rules and appreciate her tough love approach but there are a couple of kids who are still too deeply troubled to be able to stay on track all the time.

Grace's guarded world slowly starts to unravel when three big events hit her at the same time - she learns that she's pregnant; she receives word that her father will be released from prison; and Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), a new charge, arrives at the home bearing emotional and physical scars that Grace seems to understand a little too well. Though she is well able to overcome the trust issues that the kids have, she can't seem to be able to tear down her own wall, particularly when it comes to her boyfriend and co-worker, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.; TV's THE NEWSROOM).

SHORT TERM 12 was written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, who once worked in a California facility similar to this one. His experiences there formed the basis of a short film of the same name that he wrote in university as his thesis project. It was released in 2008 to great praise. The long version of the film has been a festival darling since it premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in March 2013. There, it won both the Grand Jury and Audience awards, and 32 more awards at other festivals from Abu Dhabi to Mexico.

There are a couple of scenes in the film (Marcus' rap song and Jayden's children's story) that will absolutely break your heart but this film is far from being mawkish. All the performances are delivered with such sincerity you may just think that these actors understand abuse on a firsthand level. Larson's quiet and sensitive performance, though, really stands out in this work that is both solidly written and directed. As much as Grace would like to like to sublimate her own past, the events that surround her won't let her. Through her, the kids and even Mason, we see that while you can cover up the scars, they remain with you long after the abuse ends.
½ August 13, 2016
sleepy indie moody story that i had no interest in, the male characters seemed a bit pretentious and the females melodramatic. i couldn't stay focused m. apparently i am alone in this thinking. my bad guys, sorry!
August 3, 2016
Quite simply, my favorite movie of all time.
½ July 24, 2016
Tries too hard to be tragic.
July 8, 2016
What a surprise! This film is absolutely incredible. It reminds you that everyone, no matter how buried it is, has a story. Everyone has had something awful happen to them in life. I hope this film lives on in my memory forever. Truly a masterpiece
½ July 7, 2016
One of the most upsetting, uplifting, and best movies I've ever seen.
½ July 7, 2016
A raw and heady drama that doesn't lose touch with its humanity or delve so far into the somber material that it feels like a drag. In a performance that catapulted her to greater visibility, Brie Larson plays Grace, supervisor-cum-therapist to a small houseful of troubled youths. Grace seems to know the right approach to penetrating even the sturdiest veneer, but that understanding stems from similar incidents in her own past that she's never truly addressed. It can often seem easier to show others the way than to do the same for yourself, I suppose. Surrounding Larsen is an excellent set of supporting efforts, helmed by John Gallagher Jr. as her big-hearted secret boyfriend/coworker, but the real show-stealers are the kids themselves. Each touched with a turgid, tragic set of challenges all their own, they succeed at portraying mistrust, resentment, anger, helplessness... and, strikingly, an innate sense of community. Their complexities are the keys to this story, gateway to a dark world that many of us would never dare to explore on our own. Efficient, emotional, intense but not oppressive - tension-breakers arrive in all the right moments - this was a wonderful surprise, and something that's bound to stick with me for some time.
½ July 1, 2016
I fall in love with Brie Larson any time I watch her in a movie. This was wonderfully directed and great look into the lives of children in foster car as well as those who work in foster care
½ June 23, 2016
An indie film that feels authentically personal, painfully realistic, and absolutely genuine. I felt the struggles of the characters, and was filled with anticipation for the entire story. Brie Larson gives another great performance. It's a shame this film didn't get more attention.
June 22, 2016
Utterly fantastic! Wonderful story telling, with characters you care deeply about. This is an amazing film that should not be missed!
June 21, 2016
"Short Term 12" is a somber, genuine, and overall effective drama about troubled youth. What makes this movie work is how it respects the audience and assumes that they can put the pieces together when it comes to the story. The performances are also fantastic, and Brie Larson shines in particular. Her performance is a heartbreaking and realistic one; the same can be said for all of the young actors in this movie. They all do a good job of showcasing different personalities and characters struggling with different issues. At times, it doesn't feel like a lot is particularly happening, but that adds to the realistic feel of the movie. It's a well-made drama with great performances and a touching story that will definitely move you.
June 20, 2016
Short Term 12 is a depressing and disturbingly realistic drama centered on the supervisors at a group home for troubled teens which gives great insight into this world from the experiences of the writer/director, Destin Daniel Cretton, who himself worked at a similar facility. The film stars a then-unknown, Brie Larson, in a star-making performance that was clear evidence of her great work to come and her stripped-down and damaged portrayal of this character really stuck with me. John Gallagher Jr is also terrific here as a fellow co-worker and long-term boyfriend to Larson's character who seems incapable of making her happy, which drives a majority of the hard-hitting drama in the film. As said, this film is pretty bleak at times due to the frank realism; each troubled youth suffering from their individual nuances, but it's also uplifting seeing how much the staff care about helping people and you leave the film feeling fulfilled emotionally. The story takes some predicable turns (and a few way out of left-field) but overall this is a solid drama that stands out due to the exceptional performances from the two leads and the serious handling of the subject matter is praise-worthy.
½ June 15, 2016
Brie Larson notches another terrific performance while she is surrounded by a great supporting cast and impactful story.
½ June 10, 2016
Short term 12 featured great performances from all the cast. I really enjoyed the contrast between the light and dark parts of humanity. Heart wrenching at times but well worth a watch.
½ June 8, 2016
What am emotional explosion of a film! An insightful look in the minds and situations of troubles humans, who's stories weave into any of our own more intricately than you think.
½ June 5, 2016
Short Term 12 is a revelation. This is the best movie of 2013 that no one has ever talked about. Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr. are absolute gems. Destin Daniel Cretton is "destined" for great things down the line. I can't wait for what he does next. In conclusion, Short Term 12 is a movie you NEED to see. 10 out of 10.
½ June 4, 2016
I had no idea there were so many up and coming actors in this film, it's no surprise it was amazing!
May 22, 2016
Really emotional, however shot with a smart restraint that leads to pure empathy and not some overwhelming pathos. Great direction and actors. Simply great.
May 3, 2016
Great movie with plenty of mixed emotions. Really opens your eyes.
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