Short term 12 is an American drama film revolving around the life of Grace (Brie Larson) a young supervisor at a foster-care home for at-risk teenagers. Her strength and determination make her well-equipped as a caretaker for these kids, along with her co-workers, which includes her long term boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr.).
I think a lot of filmmakers (and critics) can mistake grittiness for realism – when they see a dark setting with similarly dark subject matter they can instantly call it a realistic film. That doesn’t happen here. The direction is a balancing act between the cinematography and how the subject matter of the narrative is performed to create a very authentic realism – and it is an achieved balance that feels very honest. I was blown away by the performances of Gallagher and Larson, but the latter in particular, who was awarded several accolades for her fantastic ability to demonstrate Grace’s thick-skinned toughness and the emotional fragility underneath it, and in a way that looks so effortlessly truthful and real that it draws you into the brilliant narrative even further. I should mention John Gallagher Jr. again just because this is the first thing I’ve seen him in other than The Newsroom – and he doesn’t disappoint; his character is the perfect partner for Grace, equal parts understanding and irritable, and it’s never overstated. That’s the biggest thing I have to say about this film, that nothing feels overstated – from the locations to the characters, nothing in this film feels like its being rammed down your throat or preached to you in a sermon.
This film won’t have caught your eye in an epic blockbuster kind of way – you might not have even heard of it until this review – but I can easily say it’s one of the best drama films I’ve ever seen. The characters, locations and situations all have a genuine honesty about them that you sadly don’t see a lot, and the performances are outstanding by its cast; I’d love to see John Gallagher Jr. in more films like this, as he’s definitely proven himself here, and as for Brie Larson; if performances like this are what we can expect from her, She is definitely on her way up.