Short Term 12
Director Destin Cretton based Short Term 12 on his own experiences working in a foster care facility for at-risk teenagers, and it shows. His drama documents the trials of social worker Grace (Brie Larson) as she cares for vulnerable children while fending off her own demons. Short is all nuanced performances bathed in sumptuous Californian sunlight: its realism is reflected in its lo-fi aesthetic and naturalistic cinematography.
Films about sexual abuse are often didactic, about bringing what is hidden to light, and exposing audiences to its horrors. Short Term 12 is that rare thing: a film about life after abuse. The cathartic, cinematic ending comes off a little overwrought and contrived for a film so anchored in its authentic, real-life roots, but an ecstatic truth is still a truth, and it’s a minor quibble in this outstanding, important work. [Rachel Bowles]