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Review: Short Term 12

Daniel Cretton’s semi-autobiographical story of a foster-home worker impresses.


This film probably isn’t on your radar, but it should be. After yet another summer swamped by blockbusters, most of which can be covered off by the synopsis ‘lots of buildings go kablooey’, here comes something really rather special. Set inside a halfway house for troubled teens, a stop-gap before the system finds them somewhere permanent to live, the naturalistic, no-frills drama follows the efforts of Grace (Brie Larson), boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr) and a couple of other twentysomethings to look after the kids, to keep them safe and provide a home of sorts. The key, Grace informs a newbie, is not to get too attached, too close. That’s easier said than done, though, especially for the seemingly infallible Grace, who starts working through painful issues of her own after bonding with the facility’s latest arrival.

Sounds impossibly grim, right? Wrong. While writer and director Destin Daniel Cretton – who once worked at a group home – doesn’t scrimp on sob-muffling scenes, he knows when to remove the sting, softening the blow of the wrecking ball with moments of warmth and a sense of humour. If anything, Short Term 12 is an uplifting watch. Yes, it’s about hurting, but it’s also about healing, confronting the past, letting it scab over and doing the best you can to start again. The cast is top-notch as well, with a special mention going to Larson, putting in a star-making turn. Having already built up a load of buzz on the festival circuit, not to mention getting a shout-out from Lena Dunham (go watch Girls), the love for this flick is going to keep on coming, rightfully and deservedly.

GT gives this a: 4/5

Words: Thomas Sitchbury

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