Short Term 12 - DVD Review

'Larson is sympathetic, empathetic and layered, the last element being particularly important in a narrative which requires Grace's (Larson) history to unfold as the children themselves open up'

Destin Cretton's impressive Short Term 12 works on that base level you feel a lot Indie film-makers might be wiser to focus on more: it's a solid story, about people just trying to exist, which remembers that a lot of heart can go a long way.

A bonus for Cretton is that he has the hugely impressive Brie Larson to help him to navigate an occasionally troubling story about the lives of the workers and residents of a short term home for children. Don't, whatever you do, call them 'underprivileged', a mistake Nate (Rami Malek) makes early on.

In the lead, Larson is sympathetic, empathetic and layered, the last element being particularly important in a narrative which requires Grace's (Larson) history to unfold as the children themselves open up. 'This is hard', Cretton seems to be saying, there are direct parallels between expecting the children to open up about their problems and the adults who themselves squirrel them away. It's no coincidence that, after a particular bought of violence involving one of her charges, Grace ends up opening up to partner Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) about a significant event. Larson is reminiscent in both look and performance of a younger Abbie Cornish: check out Somersault if you haven't already. It's not a good film but Cornish plays a very different character with a similar level of reserved reveal.

Not content with an incisive narrative that wisely pairs the often marginalised problems of children, with the often self-centred problems of adults, Cretton also seems to have something to say about the power of stories. Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever, as impressive as Larson in support) writes a tear-inducing tale as a method of reaching out to Grace, who responds by sharing memories of her past. The film opens on Mason telling Nate about the most infamous event at the facility and ends with something similar. Cretton stops short of having a character break the fourth wall and tell you they're aware of their fiction, but the signs are there and there to draw you in.

The problem, if there is one, is that Cretton can't quite avoid a fairly predictable structure of conflict/resolution/conflict, which manages to permeate pretty much every relationship the film offers you in any great detail. Test it out: almost no-one of any significance avoids it. Perhaps that's life in Short Term 12, but it does make things a bit predictable, given the ninety-six minute course of events.




Short Term 12 is released on UK DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 10th March.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

No comments:

Post a comment