19th Mar2014

‘Short Term 12’ Blu-ray Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Brie Larson, Frantz Turner, John Gallagher Jr., Stephanie Beatriz, Rami Malek, Alex Calloway, Kevin Hernandez, Lydia Du Veaux | Written and Directed by Destin Cretton


Destin Cretton (I Am Not A Hipster), who as well as this version also wrote and directed the short film on which Short Term 12 is based, is certainly a director to watch after his work on this movie, released in November of 2013 in cinemas and on Blu-ray and DVD just a week or so ago.

Set in a facility that cares for and houses foster kids that are in-between homes and for whatever reason are no longer with their birth families, the story of Short Term 12 follows a twenty-something manager of the facility named Grace, played with subtlety, heart and a wonderful sense of realism by Brie Larson (The Spectacular Now). Grace is juggling her work at the facility, her secret relationship with co-worker Mason, played brilliantly by John Gallagher Jr (Whatever Works) and her inner concerns, demons and thoughts. Larson steals the show here, which is not an easy feat considering the high quality performances. The foster care facility is a realistic one, with the characters we meet never falling into false-seeming clichés and lacklustre written tragedies that we have seen in other films and television shows that attempt to deal with this subject. There is tragedy of a real and very moving and sad kind here, along with much-needed humour and light-heartedness in certain scenes that give the film, the characters in it, and the audience a feeling of hope.

I was stolen and taken aback by this film, the excellent writing and the lack of silly formulaic characters. The addition of facility newcomer Nate, played by Rami Malek, brings us a glimpse of what it might be, and often is, like for people entering this sort of job for the first time. There are scenes were Nate unknowingly makes mistakes and finds himself encountering difficulties within the job. These, on a personal level, were not only realistic, but very much mirror images of things that happen in these places, and any job for that matter, and add a definite element of familiarity and relatability to the film.

There are times when the film can be depressing and uncomfortable but this isn’t the type of film you would watch and expect to not encounter those things. The documentary feel to the film makes everything we witness feel all the more real and the way the dialogue is delivered by the kids in the facility as well as the main adult cast feel much more legitimate than we’re used to seeing.

I recommend this film very highly, and it falls into a list of my favourites of the past year. It isn’t often we encounter films like this, so you should give it a shot.

The Blu-ray of the film looks lovely. I would have liked to have seen the short film that this is based on included as a special feature, but we can’t have everything I suppose. We do get some making-of stuff to watch, which is always interesting.

Short Term 12 is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Verve Pictures.


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