Saturday, September 07, 2013

Short Term 12

Not a whole lot to say beyond the review here - this is a pretty darn good movie. As mentioned in the review, it's the sort of movie you expect to see in a festival but not necessarily in wide (or even limited) release. It's an odd sort of movie, in that one doesn't exactly want it reduced to the size of a TV, but which is still too intimate in scale to necessarily be shared with a crowd. There's a crowd at festival screenings, of course, but it's one selected to potentially more connected to what's on screen than the crowd around them. It's different; there's fewer people there just on a whim or because that's what was showing when they arrived at the theater.

Or I may be full of crap and trying to find patterns where there aren't any. I don't quite think so, though.

Short Term 12

* * * * (out of four)
Seen 5 September 2013 in Landmark Kendall Square #8 (first-run, 2K DCP)

That Short Term 12 did very well on the festival circuit is no surprise, but that it managed to get into theaters afterward is a pleasant one. It's pretty great, but it's also the sort of observational movie where the plot emerges rather than announces itself. Those can be wonderful things, but hard sells. Worth it, though, in cases like this.

"Short Term 12" is a county-sponsored group home for at-risk teenagers; though the intention is generally for them to be there weeks or months, it's not uncommon for kids like almost-eighteen-year-old Marcus (Keith Stanfield) to age out. The folks overseeing them are not a whole lot older: Grace (Brie Larson), who reports in to a supervisor but is in charge at the house, is in her mid-twenties, with her boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) and their co-worker Jessica (Stephanie Beatriz) about the same age; the new guy, Nate (Rami Malek), is just out of college. Also new: Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), a cutter who clearly reminds Grace a lot of herself at the same age, sometimes showing just how much she has and hasn't been able to move forward since her own time in places like this.

Though writer/director Destin Cretton (who had previously done a short-film version of the story) initially seems to set things up for the audience to be guided through this environment alongside Nate, he wastes no time in making it clear that Grace is the main focus of the story, although the troubled kids around her are not just going to be props that exist as her reflection. Brie Larson, then, is charged with making Grace singular enough to command the audience's attention without exactly standing out, and she does so in the best way. Her reaction to everything that puts pressure on Grace is note-perfect - the audience can feel the stress on her - but she never becomes larger-than-life; even when acting out, she never feels like she's performing. She's got a personality beyond her issues.

Full review at EFC.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't sell audiences quite so short. It's a great film, large or small. Scale doesn't matter here.

I think part of your hesitence may be because you rarely see this kind of intimate drama in studio pictures any more. But, in the 70s these kind of small-scale movies were coming out seemingly monthly. And, even in the old studio era, there were always a few such films released.

It's just now that we equate "studio" release with loud clanking robots and infantile 'grown up' comedies........