“Short Term 12” is a powerful story of resiliency and the transformative power of love. This genuine, honest portrayal of troubled teenagers is based on the real life experiences of director Destin Daniel Cretton. Many of the characters and scenarios in the story are based on people that he encountered while working at a group facility. It is a chilling dose of realism that will immediately engage your empathy toward teens that come from bad family situations. The content is strong and disturbing at times, but really drives home the dire circumstances of these unfortunate kids. Stylistically, the film uses just enough shakey cam to make it feel personal but not so much that it makes you sick. Once it draws you in to its reality, there are a few inevitable tearjerker moments but it is nice to see that every drama does not have to end in the depths of depression. There are even a few moments that will make you laugh! My only issue with the script is the excessive language. I agree that much of the profanity spoken by the teens in the facility is absolutely necessary to create the realism of their mental situations. My issue is with the conversations of the workers. A film like this needs to give the audience a break from the profanity so that we do not become desensitized. By including f-words and s-words in every scene, they become less potent in the most powerful moments of the film. While the film is set up for success with this profound script, it comes together through strong acting from top to bottom. Between Brie Larson's powerhouse performances in this film and in "Room," she has established herself as the next big Hollywood actress. She possesses the ability to harness the raw emotions from deep in her soul and portray them through her characters. The real surprise is 16-year-old Kaitlyn Dever as the passive aggressive character Jayden. Her spectrum of emotions ranges from subtle sarcastic facial expressions to a total mental breakdown. The rap by Marcus (played by Keith Stanfield) is completely heartbreaking. All of the residents of the facility perform beyond their years, and the cast is rounded out by John Gallagher, Jr. as the balance between normal and disturbed. “Short Term 12” is not the most well-known film but it is a must for fans of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Girl, Interrupted,” and any other drama that creates a realistic portrayal of life in an institution.
[Picture: Larson and Dever deliver an incredible amount of emotion]