Short Term 12

Short Term 12

***

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

The title refers to a foster care centre, which houses a variety of children and teenagers who have nowhere else to find support.

Some of the counsellors are not that much older than some of their charges – most in their twenties and some like Grace (Brie Larson) with a troubled childhood of their own still making its presence felt.

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Grace appears to be a stable relationship with a co-worker Mason (John Gallagher Jr) but suddenly a combination of circumstances throws her life in the air and with a little help from her friends, she tries to stitch it back together again.

One of the triggers is that she finds out that she is pregnant. And her father who was abusive is about to be released from prison – plus she discovers that inmate Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) seems to be suffering from simiilar abuse from her father. It all conspires to tear her apart despite her best efforts to hold it together.

Destin Cretton really reaches under the skin of the characters, all of whom have the air of total authenticity. The narrative is based on his own experiences of working in a foster home and that shows.

Brie Larson, a best acting candidate if ever there was one, gives Grace both fragility and will-power as well as a dark side.

She told crowds at the Locarno Film Festival that she learned a lot about herself during the making of the film.

“I usually pick roles that are unlike myself, and I thought Short Term 12 would be like that as well,” Larson said. “But in this film, I had to strip everything away, and what was left was myself. I don’t know how many of you are out there but it’s a lot, and I imagine that about one of you even knows who I am. But that’s still more than before this film because at that time I didn’t even know myself.”

The film’s simplicity is its strength, recognised by the enthusiastic reception and sustained applause from its 3000 audience at the Fevi venue – one of the most positive reactions so far in this year’s Locarno line-up.

Reviewed on: 14 Aug 2013
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Story of a counsellor at a foster care centre.
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