Short Term 12 ****

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“Short Term 12” is a film with astonishing power from a story that seems so simply. Maybe it seems that way because the dialogue and the performances feel so real and gripping. There have not been many movies this year that depict real life in such a raw manner.

The plot surrounds a Grace, a supervisor at a foster care facility for teenagers at risk. She is fairly low key but soon reveals a tough and passionate side that was developed by her own experiences as a teenager. Her boyfriend and coworker is Mason, who seems like a loveable goof at first, but later reveals unexpected depth and compassion. This is one of those movies where the characters are not portrayed as one note simpletons. Here they are real people with real emotions.

The director is Destin Cretton, who makes his debut. I get the feeling he has experienced some of the things these characters go through or is at least close to someone who has. He gets very intimate with these characters as if he knows them. His direction of the cast gets some of the most honest performances I have seen this year.

As Grace, Brie Larson is a revelation. I can’t wait to see what she does next. Her performance is quiet but compelling. I also loved the work of John Gallagher Jr. as Mason.

“Short Term 12” came and went without making a dent at the box office. It found an audience on the film festival circuit. Hopefully it will find more viewers on the home market because it really is a film that people should see.

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