Short Term 12 Screen 16 articles

Short Term 12


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  • The movie opened late in August and is still playing around the country, largely due to interest in Larson's performance. She's as good as people says she is. But the performance takes too long to take shape. The movie seems caught between dark realism and a forced comedy.

  • Seem to be alone in quite liking the final act, if only because the most original wrinkle is that the counsellors are formerly-damaged products of the system themselves, so the less well-adjusted they are, the less complacent the film looks - and most of it looks way too complacent.

  • Perhaps the most promising thing about Cretton, though, at least going by this one feature film under his belt, is his generosity of vision and the refreshingly wide emotional range that vision admits.

  • Cretton achieves a perfect synthesis of style and content when so many others working now seem to have an unnecessary gap between the two. Most importantly, Short Term 12 offers an alternative on the portrayal of twenty-somethings: Grace, and her colleague and lover Mason, are complex, selfless, thoughtful people operating as adults.

  • Written and directed by Destin Cretton, the film seems better than the stock quirks with which it saddles its characters... There's tremendous dramatic value to the aching and sometimes devastating scenes that home in on these kids' private torments.

  • It never approaches the affective intensity of Allan King’s... Warrendale, nor does it seem to emanate from a mind with as strong a grip on the inherent expressivity of mental unrest as with Cassavetes’s A Child is Waiting. This isn’t to suggest that Short Term 12 fails within the parameters of what it tries to do. On the contrary: it is rich enough with both compassion and technical competence to impress viewers, even if it doesn’t push the envelope.

  • Stylistically indebted to the mumblecore movement, Cretton’s film about a children’s group home in California transcends the navel-gazing excess of said genre, expanding its view to the wider and more complex world. Though the sun-washed style and hand-held camera work isn’t revolutionary, Cretton’s finely written script eschews easy sentimentality and the intentionally erratic pacing strips the film of predictability.

  • [The] hackneyed coincidence [where it's revealed that Grace has had a traumatic past just like everyone she counsels] bulldozes the sense of verisimilitude Cretton and his actors had been working so hard to establish. Which is a real shame, because Short Term 12’s first half, which concentrates on mundane interactions between kids and staff (who are practically kids themselves, barely out of college), is engaging enough that it didn’t need cranked-up, “this time it’s personal” melodrama.

  • Not all of this works, especially the overly familiar history that she shares with a new resident, Jayden (a fine Kaitlyn Dever). “Short Term 12” started out as a short movie and that may help explain why some of the narrative complications feel forced rather than organic. Yet even as the gathering melodramatic storms threaten to swamp this pungent slice of life, Mr. Cretton manages to earn your tears honestly.

  • The instantly absorbing low-budget drama “Short Term 12” has more than a hint of after-school special and more than a hint of prime-time teen soap – and I mean those things in the best possible way! It’s both a compelling group melodrama built around an appealing young cast and an immersive introduction into a social reality many of us haven’t thought about...

  • Short Term 12 is an earnest film that tries hard to be honest and direct about the suffering of children. Despite the heavy subject matter, the film never bogs down into the daily grief it depicts, but maintains a jaunty current of humor that counterbalances its melodramatic content.

  • Cretton and his remarkable young actors convey not only the challenge of caring for abandoned children with behavioral problems, but of caring for _these_ children with _these_ problems. By understanding the charges as individuals, we're able to sympathize with their issues, even laugh benignly at them.

  • This is a powerful human drama told with great honesty and compassion, Cretton's unsentimental direction enabling him to hit upon a truth that puts his film in the same class as likeminded student-teacher parables, Half Nelson being the most obvious touchstone.

  • The teens in their care fit a familar, tightly defined array of ethnicities and personalities, but Cretton—who worked in such a facility—narrowly skirts the risk of stereotyping through the force of imagination. His dialogue is wondrously energized, suggesting impulses and experiences that range far beyond the confines of the plot’s problems, and Grace and Mason... remain passionately loose-ended and casual, embodying the rare ideal of peaceful people you’d follow into battle.

  • One of the few major finds to come out of SXSW, Cretton’s feature adaptation of his 2009 short takes primo After-School Special material and leeches out most of the soap-operatics and syrup; you’d have to go back to Half Nelson to find such a beautifully organic combo of spot-on performances, tough-love storytelling and tender treatment of deep-rooted emotional damage.

  • Short Term 12... resonates so strongly thanks in large part to its mosaic of absorbing performances by experienced actors and newcomers alike. Their faces and words express so much, and Cretton asks us to listen carefully. We get to know them well, their vulnerabilities, weaknesses and strengths. In the end, we see them not as individuals, but pieces of a flourishing extended family that’s always welcoming to new members.

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