Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
I loved the film Short Term 12 by Director Destin Daniel Cretton and starring Brie Larson (as Grace) and John Gallagher Jr (as Mason)! I’ve tried to discuss some themes here without giving away too much of the story. All of the actors show a great range of emotions, facial expressions and body language making the acting believable. Aspects of the scenario of an abused and antisocial girl (Kaitlyn Dever as Jayden) being helped by someone else in the facility (Grace) resonate with Girl, Interrupted with Angelina Jolie (as sociopath Lisa) and Winona Ryder (as Susanna) but I found enough uniqueness of this scenario in Short Term 12 to become greatly engaged with the story and characters.
The character of Grace is exceptionally gifted in her even, caring but unflinchingly sensible treatment of the foster children in the facility. At the beginning of the film I didn’t guess that Grace didn’t have any social work qualifications or that she had an awful and abusive childhood. The story crept forward at a nice pace to reveal devastating aspects of the lives of each of the main characters. The character of Mason is almost unbelievably sweet and understanding. He puts up with a great deal of unpleasantness and exclusion by his girlfriend Grace including being punched in the face during a romantic embrace and being told that it’s all over between them when he asked Grace to confide in him. If I wasn’t married to an equally sweet and understanding man I would have found this hard to believe!
The rapping by Marcus (Keith Stanfield) is incredibly moving and quite difficult to watch because of the intensity of his negative emotions towards the mother who made him her pimp and repeatedly beat him around the head. In the scene, Mason sits with Marcus while he raps and my response to Marcus’s story was more intense for the feeling that Mason also had a troubled youth and is likely to embark on a journey of personal healing as a result of his interactions with Marcus. Similarly, the scene with Jayden, Grace and the baseball bats is cathartic because of the strong parallels between their lives and the feeling that each has resolved to make improvements to their lives but at the same time the act of vandalism was difficult to believe. The reason why I’m giving the film 4 1/2 stars and not 5 is that the ending was overly saccharine and unnecessary because it left the viewer feeling cheated by its tidiness.