Starring: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Running Time: 96 mins
Short Term 12 is an American film about a woman working in a home for troubled teenagers who, while guiding the kids she looks after towards a better life, is avoiding her own suffering deep down.
What do I say about this absolute masterpiece? Short Term 12 is easily one of the best films I’ve ever seen; it’s a powerfully emotional, hard-hitting and realistic drama about troubled lives, but it’s also an astonishingly beautiful, inspiring and heartfelt personal story about dealing with those problems, and it’s something that had me completely enthralled from beginning to end.
There’s so much that I loved about this film, but if there’s one real stand-out, then it’s Brie Larson’s performance. It’s amazing enough to give such a great performance in your first lead role, but to then go further and put in a show that trumps what most of the established Hollywood elite can do was unbelievably impressive.
Brie Larson’s acting is absolutely perfect in Short Term 12. Better than her stunning turn in Room, she brilliantly shines when it comes to delivering the incredible emotion that this film provides, always appearing one hundred percent sincere in everything she does on screen. The emotional core of the film does undoubtedly lie in the brilliantly-written characters, but without Larson’s astonishing performance, along with her co-stars, this would never have been such an enthralling watch.
Next to that performance, Destin Daniel Cretton’s writing is phenomenal. The most striking part of the film is the unbelievably realistic emotional power that the story delivers, bringing you fully into this broken world where many people suffer in their personal lives. What Cretton does so perfectly here is avoid great melodrama, and instead delivers the highest emotion in the quietest, most personal scenes of the movie.
The dialogue is exquisitely written, so the film is always absolutely fascinating to follow, but the fact that Cretton leaves so much of the most important parts of the story unsaid, and instead leaves it to the actors and his own direction to show you, means that the emotion always feels so much more powerful, sincere and personal than any screenplay could ever show.
However, although the emotional aspect of Short Term 12 is of course its most impressive feature, the reason that this film stands above the majority of these personal dramas is because it has a massive heart. Yes, this film is very often devastating to watch, and it even had me in tears at moments, but there’s also so much to smile at along the way.
Whilst taking a serious look at the characters’ problems, this film really shines in the way it portrays its characters’ bonds. Although things may seem bad a lot of the time, this film never forgets to show how strong everybody’s relationships are, and with a dash of very well-suited comedy from time to time, I was truly touched by how this film showed the good in people as well as the bad.
Overall, I was blown away by this film. It’s not just an impressive and down-to-earth drama, it’s a masterpiece of acting, writing and directing, all of which come together to make for a truly and uniquely moving, engrossing and human story, and that’s why I’m giving Short Term 12 a 9.4.