A young supervisor at a short term foster care facility must help the kids deal with their problems, all while dealing with her own.
I will admit, I couldn’t decide what to make of this movie for the first fifteen minutes or so. It seemed overly light hearted for how serious it seemed to want to be taken. But after the story really started in full I realized that their was a point to the mixed tone the film was setting. A lot of films that try to tug at your heartstrings do just that and do it very well. “Amour” and “The Kid With a Bike” are two films that spring to mind when I think of sad dramas where the tone throughout the movie can at the best of times be described as a sliver of light piercing through overcast clouds. And while those movies pull off this tone splendidly that was not what “Short Term 12” was attempting to do. Instead, the dark moments are tempered by the scenes where we see the characters laughing, having a good time and generally just being the 20 something characters they are. This contrast makes both the dark and light stand out and we see that even though our main characters have to deal with soul crushingly depressing things at times their lives are no more dominated by it then this movie is.
My biggest problem with this film comes from a technical stand point. Their where more scenes then I cared to count where I found myself thinking “Why are they shooting this scene this way?”. I guess I am not a film maker myself so perhaps I could be talking out my ass but I can think of at least two very important, very powerful scenes that could have been greatly improved by some simple editing and better camera angles. Most conversations between characters are done with the standard, deliver a line, cut to the other character so they can deliver a line, cut back to the other character so they can deliver a line etc…etc…
Though this film leaves more than a bit to be desired in the technical realm this failing is greatly overshadowed by the near flawless writing and acting. Not once in this film did I question a characters actions, even when I questioned their motives. As the scenes progress more and more of Grace (Brie Larson), our main characters backstory is revealed. Because of this reveal we start to understand past actions taken by Grace that seemed odd at the time, but were performed in such a way as to not seem unrealistic. To top it all off, one of my easiest complaints I can usually make about a film with kid actors was noticeably and gladly missing. Kaitlyn Dever as Jayden manages to more than keep up with her older co-stars, never once forcibly reminding you that you are in fact watching a movie with poor delivery.
While the film lacks in some areas its strengths make up for those faults in a big way, carrying this movie above your average drama, and even above a good drama. While I didn’t know what to think at the beginning, by the end all I could think was how much I enjoyed myself. 8/10
Available on Netflix Instant streaming