The need to portray life as it is looms over this style of expression and there is nothing wrong with that sort of realism. The youthful idealism and the realism of broken lives comes expected, but that is why we love this so much, it comes expected in an industry of crowd pleasers as a refuge from shiny plastic people and becomes a movie of great emotional resonance to which someone can actually relate.
SHORT TERM 12 (2013), Directed by Destin Cretton
Developing a flow of seamless empathy that spans the entire film is a feat in itself, but doing it with style and ease is even more rewarding. Cretton`s full length adaptation of his 2009 short is wonderful, full of doubts, insecurities, that is to say-very human. In its wanting to portray a situation In which the filmmaker has been himself (Cretton has worked at a group home for at-risk teens), the movie feel right, the scenes ring true and the dialog is in place. At this point in 2013 we can easily say that it represents the best of American independent cinema, no gimmicks, conversation and mood centered, engaging camera work and cinema verité kind of acting. The opening and closing dialogs in the movie are indicative of a cultural frame, youthful but centered around experiences that deal with the kids, with no excess baggage it curls a smile on our faces. The need to portray life as it is looms over this style of expression and there is nothing wrong with that sort of realism. The youthful idealism and the realism of broken lives comes expected, but that is why we love this so much, it comes expected in an industry of crowd pleasers as a refuge from shiny plastic people and becomes a movie of great emotional resonance to which someone can actually relate.
The main character, Grace played by Larson Brie is an emotional wreck herself, holding it all together when at work only to fall apart any other chance she gets. Striking a balance between her own issues and the kids at short term 12 she is always marked by her caring and involvement. That is the soul food that drives her work, and also the baggage that stains her relationship with her 3 year boyfriend and co-worker Mason. The movie takes us into their lives to reveal the backbone of Grace`s involvement and care that goes into her work with the kids. The kids themselves are a great bunch, with Keith Stanfield as Marcus standing out as the oldest and most troubled alongside Kaitlyn Dever as Jayden. Much of the plot is situated in the group home, portraying situations like group meetings, individual relationships and transferring the aura of the home for us to feel.
Short term 12 is an easily watchable film, its narrative doesn`t give way to experimentation or long meditative shots, it`s theme and feeling come out of the situation the film depicts. The pacing is just right, and it doesn`t drop throughout the 96 minutes. Considering the neurotic outbursts that arise in many of the characters, it has no ups and downs in attention span, it just flows.