Sunday, September 22, 2013

Short Term 12 - 3 1/2 stars

Brie Larson stars as Grace, a twenty-something supervisor at a foster-care facility for at-risk teenagers.  She's dating Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), another supervisor at the facility.  Their days consist of leading group sharing, searching the kids' bedrooms for contraband, and chasing after the occasional runaway. 

One day, a very troubled teenager named Jayden arrives at the facility.  She's a cutter and her father may be abusing her.  Grace is the perfect person to try to help her, since Grace has been through the same kind of stuff. 

As the movie goes on, we learn more about Grace's past.  When she's working with the kids, she seems to have it all together.  She's able to remain calm in any situation, whether a kid's having a tantrum or whether another kid has just slashed his wrists.  But Grace is really as messed up as any of the teenagers she's trying to help.  She's also pregnant, and trying to decide what to do about it.

This was a really affecting movie.  It didn't over-sentimentalize the situations.  This is no after school special.  The writer director, Destin Daniel Cretton, really knows his subject.  I wouldn't be surprised if he had spent some time living or working in a place like this. 

The characters are really well developed and the relationship between Grace and Jayden was very moving.  There isn't a lot of humor in this movie, but that's ok.  The story is compelling and the drama feels honest. 

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