By Jess Fenton
22nd December 2013

Occasionally, Hollywood films allow their characters to get bogged down by woe-is-me melodramatic backstories. The beauty of the almost perfect indie 'Short Term 12' is it allows its audience to know just enough about anybody, and only at the appropriate time. Sentimentality is a luxury this film cannot afford and wouldn't want, relying instead on raw emotions that run the entire gamut - with this kind of realism, there's no room for disingenuous schmaltz.

Set in a foster care facility over the course of a week, 20-something primary care supervisor Grace (Brie Larson) is dealing with a resident Marcus (Keith Stanfield), who is about to turn 18 and therefore age-out of the home, a newcomer Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) whose physical and emotional scars bare an all-too-similar resemblance, a new employee Nate (Rami Malek), the fish out of water, and her own personal issues involving her partner and fellow carer Mason (John Gallagher Jr) and her past. A champion for all of her at-risk charges, Grace selflessly and constantly sacrifices her own wellbeing for her kids.


Strong on the outside but cracked glass on the inside, Grace is a power to behold, equalling the strength and vulnerability of her real-life alter ego Brie Larson, who is nothing short of spectacular. Under the guidance of feature film debut director Destin Cretton, who is a revelation, the entire ensemble cast display rawness and passion that is so rarely seen, and sadly missing from our screens.

An extended version of Cretton's 2008 short of the same name, like an ever evolving play, the work has simply been improved upon over time and with each pass. The end result is a gut-tingling, gritty yet compassionate drama. Compelling in ways you never knew possible, Cretton has produced a fresh spin on the inspirational teacher/student relationship to create a poignant, heartfelt and humble story that proves there's no such thing as a lost cause.

Beautiful in a way that cannot be defined - just like the relationships the film depicts, 'Short Term 12' is, quite simply, special.

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