Its not often I go to a film that I know virtually nothing about except that it received over 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Even the name of this film eluded me both before and after I saw it, and I had to refer to my ticket to remind me of the name of the movie that I had just seen.
Not that the film itself is unmemorable – not in the slightest. In fact Short Term 12 is definitely deserving of its high rating. It is not a film for everyone, doesn’t have amazing effects or a super star studded cast, it doesn’t have a big budget or a particularly long running time. All it has are some amazing performances, an engaging story, and lots and lots of teen angst and drama.
It’s not a perfect film really, but it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s all about damaged and abandoned kids, both the young ones and the more mature. There are laughs and tears and secrets and twists. And it’s all told perfectly well.
Holding it all together and selling the film is an incredible turn by Brie Larson as damaged social worker Grace, a dry, strict mothering force in a residence for runaways and abandoned kids. The adults and kids around her all bring their a-game along as well, and they are all excellent, but it is really Larsen, almost eternally straight faced with a hint of sadness but a beautiful smile just waiting to come out, who holds everything together and brings everyone along for the ride.
There is not much else to say about it really: as well told as it is, the troubled teens tales and the damaged adults stories are ones that have been told before (if you are into that kind of thing), but here they are packaged in an accessible, entertaining package.
Verdict: Short Term 12 is a perfectly formed film telling an affecting story with amazing performances. The subject matter is not really one that would have blockbuster appeal, but its one of those films that, despite its occasionally depressing subject matter, has you smiling at the end and feeling like there are worthwhile films out there. 10 short terms out of 12.