On the latest episode of Reel Shorts, a 20-something supervising staff member of a foster care facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend in the brilliant drama, Short Term 12.
This diamond-in-the-rough is a fantastic story about a group of young troubled teens in foster care and the staff of caring counselors that work with them on a daily basis. The story centers on lead counselor, Grace (Larson), who has settled into a steady routine while maintaining a caring, yet firm grip of her world at work with the teens and her home-life and relationship with fellow counselor, Mason (Gallagher).
But when a confluence of events, including her abusive father being released from jail, discovering she is pregnant and culminating with the arrival of a new resident, Jayden (Dever), who helps her dredge up her past, throw Grace into an emotional tailspin.
Expertly using the resident’s artwork to convey their emotions, both Cretton’s script and direction are flawless as he balances a diverse collections of emotions and is supported by several amazing performances including an outstanding breakthrough turn from Larson. Gallagher is equally compassionate, caring and humorous, as the film’s emotional center. Keith Stansfield is amazing as veteran resident Marcus, who is spotlighted in one the film’s best scenes that shows will break your heart and might serve as the launch point for his successful career.
While Stansfield shines, fellow Dever matches his energy and also has several emotional scenes of her own that will make your heart weep. Using a children’s story to relate her own abuse is a highly effective device and one of the film’s most poignant moments. In a season of successful, winning indie films, Short Term 12 is outstanding and scales the mountain as the Summer’s best film and the biggest surprise of 2013.