37) Short Term 12 [9.0]

Depicts the struggles of a compassionate twenty-something contending with some unexpected life developments while working as a supervisor at a home for at-risk teens. Grace (Brie Larson) has dedicated her life to helping kids who have slipped through the cracks of the system. Committed to her job and in love with kindhearted co-worker Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), she’s still struggling to make sense of her own troubled past when she learns that her life is about to change forever. (2013)

Based on the logline of Short Term 12, you’d think you would be in for a PSA type film with some big message. With what little I knew about this movie, I at least assumed it would be just that. I am so happy to say that not only am I wrong, but Short Term 12 is one of the most consistently excellent films I’ve seen in a while.

I’ve always been a fan of Brie Larson (for full disclosure, I have a super duper crush on her too), but she’s never been as good as she is here. Her chemistry with the outstanding John Gallagher Jr. is incredibly natural. The teen actors are hands down the best young ensemble I’ve seen put to film. Though I could do without the fluffy score, I’m glad Joel P. West didn’t go overboard with schmaltz.

Short Term 12 is partly so good for all the beats it doesn’t do. I feel strongly that you would have to be downright cynical to consider this melodramatic or preachy (though I imagine some will). I mentioned earlier that the film is consistent– when’s the last time you saw a film without one false note or performance that minute to minute, act to act was just across the board good? That’s what Short Term 12 is for me, and I can’t recommend watching and watching with a tissue in hand enough.

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