Short Term 12 (2013)

I’d review three films that was adapted from short films. I’ll review both the short and the feature, and I shall compare and discussing their contrast in the later. For the first moviecube is Destin Cretton’s Short Term 12 (2013) based on the 2008 Short Term 12 short.
“It’s a
real game that i just made up.”

Adapted from an award-winning 2008 short of the same name, writer-director Destin Cretton feature length film Short Term 12 created quite a buzz this year. Inspired by his own personal experience, Cretton weaved an intricate tale of the youth (and the grown up) in a foster care facility. With extra amount of the allotted time, it does not only translate the short with masterful care, but also carefully add more depth to each of the character.
Grace (Brie Larson) is one of the young supervisor at a foster-care facility that dealt with troubled youths.  She, along with her not-so-secret boyfriend (John Gallagher Jr.), co-worker (Stephanie Beatriz), and newbie, Nate (Rami Malek), are constantly aware of possible tantrums and emotional outbursts coming from any of the kids in the facility. When a gifted new girl, Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), arrived at a facility along with a much too familiar history, Grace unexpectedly open a door to her own troubled past and forcing her to deal with the trauma that currently resurface and caught up with the predicament of her present.
I watched the short film of the film about a year ago (and re-watched it a few days ago before i wrote the accompanying review for this feature film. I’d say you can skip the short if you watch the feature, because almost every point of the short is included in the feature (same lines, very similar sequence, etc). The huge glaring difference is the gender of the lead, although they share similar predicament. But this simple switch of genders guarantee a greater depth for the feature, and i’m not even beginning to bestow my praises upon Larson’s riveting performance either. I think by switching the gender, the magnitude of the present predicament is even greater, and the gravity of Grace’s past trauma made her fears and reluctance become even fiercer. I gladly overlook the moment of cliché towards the end, because as a whole the film manage to deliver greater impact compared to the short. But both manage to deliver the similar bleak environment of a foster home and the sadness beneath the angers of each of its occupants. Cretton definitely know how to play the emotion of the viewer without overwhelming melancholy or excessive drama.
Brett Pawlak returned as the Director of Photography of the film, delivering the same naturalistic shots commonly found in Sundance indies. The technical lighting definitely improved although they seemed rely mostly on natural lights nevertheless. But the shaky, hand-held cam become quite an annoying factor for me (and i usually don’t mind them), having shaky pictures almost the entire film made the characters seemed like they’re walking inside a ship on a rough sea (yes, i almost felt seasick at one point in the film). That being said, technicalities does not damper the brilliance of Brie Larson. Definitely a new force to be reckon with giving an captivating performance of a survivor that is still haunted by the ghost of her former life. Not to be undermined is Peter Gallagher as the goofy boyfriend that give tenderness and humour to the film. Kaitlyn Dever, Keith Standfield, as well as  Alex Calloway, each give strong performances that allows the viewer a peek behind each of their troubles and allow us to recognize their needs and what they seek.
The film wrap up like it begun (much like Dallas Buyers Club), it was beautiful though, reminding me how little emotional triumphs are still worth celebrating for. In its simplicity, Short Term 12 pack a raw emotions and devastatingly powerful story. Cretton carefully balanced the darkness of the film with lightness and infused humor, creating a fierceness within its fragility.

I think it’s a movie worth watching for. For once, i think the term ‘an indie gem’ is an understatement.

ST00SHORT TERM 12 (2013)

DIRECTOR Destin Cretton | PRODUCER Maren Olson, Asher Goldstein, Joshua Astrachan, Ron Najor | WRITER Destin Cretton | CINEMATOGRAPHER Brett Pawlak | MUSIC Joel P West  | EDITOR Nat Sanders | STUDIO Animal Kingdom, Traction Media | DISTRIBUTOR Cinedigm | COUNTRY United States | RUNNING TIME 97 minutes | BUDGET $5 Million | RATING R for language and brief sexuality | RELEASE August 23, 2013 (US), March 10, 2013 (SXSW)
STARRING Brie Larson, John Gallagher, Jr., Rami Malek, Kaitlyn Dever, Keith Stanfield, Stephanie Beatriz, Alex Calloway, Kevin Hernandez

IMDb | Official site  | Trailer


DID YOU KNOW? Cretton is currently writing and directing an adaptation of Jeanette Wall’s memoir The Glass Castle. Rumour has it Jennifer Lawrence is also attached to the project. It’s definitely a cool leap in Cretton professional career.


11 thoughts on “Short Term 12 (2013)

    • I wish actors from indie films like this would be more recognized during awards seasons, some of them deserve the acknowledgement more than the names listed in the nominee list lately.

  1. Saw this last week and it is a very good film which so many touching personal stories. It makes you realise that people taking care of these kids could also be struggling with severe issues.

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