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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Short Term 12



The stunning, remarkable Short Term 12 stars a radiant Brie Larson as the supervisor of a residential treatment facility for homeless and abused teens. She was once one of these kids; Larson is tight lipped about her past involving her imprisoned father soon to be released on parole, and she's also hiding her pregnancy from her co-worker and boyfriend John Gallagher, Jr (almost unrecognizable from The Newsroom). Though the eyes of their uncertain new colleague Rami Malek, we experience first hand what life is like for these children living in Short Term 12, each nursing deep emotional and psychological wounds, each prone to lash out and hurt themselves or each other at a moment's notice, and what a difficult toll it takes on Larson, Gallagher, Malek, and their colleague Stephanie Beatriz (playing completely opposite from Detective Rosa Mendez in Brooklyn Nine-Nine) to be their supervisors. Though the rules are Larson and her team are "not their parents, not their therapists," and are only there "to provide a safe environment," Larson's ability to be impartial is put to the test when Kaitlyn Dever arrives in Short Term 12. A sullen artist who was emotionally and physically abused by her alcoholic father, Larson sees a mirror image of herself in Dever, which forces her to confront her own lifelong trauma. Short Term 12 is a rare gem where the characters feel thoroughly real; they speak, relate to each other, and feel genuine hurt and pain and palpable joys. The moments where one of the most troubled of the teens, Keith Stanfield, expresses his sorrow in a rap, and Devers explains her lifetime of abuse to Larson vis a self-penned children's story are incredibly moving. Short Term 12 is a fantastic achievement by writer-director Dusten Cretton, honest, real, and raw. As for Brie Larson, she would have Jennifer Lawrence's career if Jennifer Lawrence didn't exist, but Brie Larson's career is pretty great. Short Term 12 is kind of like The Hunger Games, if the traumatized Tributes of Panem were housed in a group home overseen by Gale and Katniss Everdeen.