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Grand Jury Winner 'Short Term 12' (2013). A Review


 

'SHORT TERM 12' (2013)

The Grand Jury Winner at SXSW (8-17 March, 2013) for Narrative Feature was ‘Short Term 12’ (2013). What started as a short film on a shoestring budget evolved into this bravura gem that has crept its way deep into the hearts and minds of audiences with its fragile subject matter, extraordinary taught writing and superior performances by an eclectic cast of newcomer teen actors and lead professionals Brie Larson (‘Grace’) and John Gallagher Jr. (‘Mason’).

Reminiscent of ‘Girl, Interrupted’ (1999) and ‘Polisse’ (2011), the film focuses on the lives of troubled, even suicidal, teens living in a domestic transitional foster home guarded by a group of young 20-something social workers. Most of these teens have experienced trauma at home in the form of verbal, physical and sexual abuse and this safe house is a place for them to heal before moving on to face the outside world.

While the guardians of the safe house are forbidden to give advice, befriend or act as psychologist to the troubled teens, rules are broken at ‘Short Term 12’ when the lives of patient and guardian are intertwined. The inevitable takes place and relationships are established, and while a caretaker ‘Grace’ seeks to guard and protect despondent and emotionally scarred teens, they in turn guard and protect the scarred and afflicted Grace in a poignant and moving exchange of people coming together in times of need.

A seamlessly written script, unrelenting suspenseful cinema verite/hyper realism direction and remarkable raw acting, this film is one that is sure to thrive and catapult itself into the mainstream on shear merit and word of mouth.

 

Written and directed by Destin Cretton; Produced by Joshua Astrachan, Asher Goldstein, Ron Najor, Maren Olson; Cinematography by Joel P. West; Composed by Rachel Myers. Starring: Brie Larson as ‘Grace’ and John Gallagher Jr. as ‘Mason’ Kaitlyn Dever as 'Jayden', Stephanie Beatriz as 'Jessica', Alex Calloway as 'Sammy', Kevin Hernandez as 'Luis'.

 

Review written by Vanessa McMahon

 

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SXSW Film presents the best in new independent films and provides informative panels, workshops, mentor sessions, parties and an industry trade show.

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