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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Brie Larson
John Gallagher Jr.
Kaitlyn Dever
Frantz Turner
Rami Malek.
Directors
Destin Cretton.
Screenwriters
Destin Cretton.
Running Time
97 minutes

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Short Term 12
All hail Brie Larson


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Plot
GoldDerby is a short-term foster-care centre for troubled teenagers, presided over by young supervisors — and secret couple — Grace (Larson) and Mason (Gallagher Jr.). The arrival of suicidal Jayden (Dever) forces Grace to process her own past and present — chiefly the baby she is covertly carrying.


Review
Short Term 12

In this media-saturated, internet-savvy age of film-going, it is practically impossible for a film to come out of nowhere and hit you right between the eyes. Enter Short Term 12, a film by a second-time director (Destin Cretton), featuring one up-and-coming actor (Brie Larson), a cast of unknowns and an unpromising subject (the day-to-day travails of a centre for troubled teenagers) that emerges as fresh, funny and moving. In short, the biggest surprise of 2013.

Movies are littered with Inspirational Teacher tropes, but writer-director Cretton (who worked in a similar centre) has no truck with any of them. The redemptions (if they occur at all) are fuzzy, the tenderness fused with toughness and the parallels between staff and kids lightly drawn. In fact, the moments where you feel it is going to descend into a wince-worthy Dangerous Minds morass — such as when lost boy Marcus (Keith Stansfield) expresses his problems in a rap — are the points when it really takes flight. When the smart, feisty but fragile self-harmer Jayden (a terrific Kaitlyn Dever) tells a story about an octopus and a shark — a thinly veiled allegory for her life — it has a shout for being the most riveting dialogue scene of the year.

In such a charged setting, sentiment is a nanosecond away, but Cretton steers a steady course, bathing the film in an optimistic, sunshine-y but never syrupy look and directing with 50 per cent grit (it starts with sharting) and 50 per cent grace (watch out for a bouncy castle). But he has not one but two aces in the hole: his meticulously crafted, sincere script that unfolds gradually, drip-feeding emotions and complexity so that every beat feels genuine; and Brie Larson who, while feeling completely part of the ensemble, builds into a whirling dervish of a performance, making Grace strong but scarred, damaged but compassionate. She, like the film, breaks your heart and raises your spirit in one fell swoop.
 


Verdict
Short Term 12 is a miracle of a movie. Beautifully written and perfectly played, all of human life is here: the good, the bad, the messy and the uplifting.


Reviewed by Ian Freer

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Short Term 12
Empire Star Rating

One of the best films of the decade.

Okay, so the decade isn't over yet, but this is one fantastic piece of cinema and is my number two, behind Gravity. It has genuine poignancy without resorting to false sentimentality - it's well-written, relevant, and creative enough to be something more than just a tale of troubled childhood. We mustn't forget that the acting in Short Term 12 is brilliant - and not just the amazing Brie Larson; I think we underestimate Kaitlyn Dever's performance. Adding to this, I felt that the camerawork was... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LeFelixBrown at 18:04, 13 April 2014 | Report This Post


RE: Short Term 12

I disagree completely with Azzurro06, I think Empire got this review spot on. This film is a beautifully crafted roller coaster of emotion and easily my favourite movie of 2013. One thing that Empire missed out in their review, was how the relationship between the two leads was so effortless and natural. Hollywood needs to take note that THIS is how you show two people who are in love. My only criticisms are that the Jayden plot was rounded off a little too neatly for my tastes and the sub... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by purplefacedmonkey at 13:27, 14 March 2014 | Report This Post


Empire, please stop giving 5s to utter rubbish

Boring, predictable and hammy. That's all you need to know about this. Still it did cure my insomnia. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Azzurro06 at 21:23, 03 November 2013 | Report This Post


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