This film was originally a short film by Destin Daniel Cretton, presented as his final project film studies at the University of San Diego and based on his own experience. He received the Jury Prize at Sundance Festival in 2009 and thanks to the success of his first feature film at this same festival, his second film «Short Term 12 ” was able to receive the necessary funds to be produced. Indeed, very low funds since it represented less than one million dollar which is nothing in the American film business. (To compare, the budget of an average film in France is more or less 4 million euros). The film was shot within 20 days.
Thus, a very small budget film which makes its quality even more honorable.
This movie has a rather difficult subject: we follow a young supervisor named of a group home for troubled teenagers named Grace in her daily life and especially her encounter with a young girl who will remind her of herself and her own demons.
Usually, when you see the trailer for this kind of movie, you think several things: first, that the subject is quite depressing so one must be prepared to see things not very cheerful so that going to see the film will be a “struggle”. And secondly, that there is a risk of falling into the cliché super hipster style of independent films with a tragic or a too positive end . Here, the director succeeds in dealing with his subject (he also wrote the film) and avoiding all that.
Even if you can guess what will happen, the directing and the actors’ performances still manage to surprise us. It is not treated with a neither a reserved nor an intrusive point of view in search of getting pity out of the audience. It’s done with a balance that is to say an huge sincerity in the image of Grace and how she deals with these young people.
Many onboard cameras shots (which often happens in American independent films) but here, not in overdose and a real effort with the sound. The soundtrack is really great and the use of silence that sometimes serves as transitions successfully provoke emotions . An effective directing also mastered with the directing of the actors.
About the cast : Brie Larson that we saw recently in “The Spectacular Now ” recently received a lot of nominations for this role and we understand why. Her interpretation is spot-on and she literally does the film . One should undoubtedly remember her name. The rest of the cast is composed for most children of beginner actors or actors with little experience which probably increased the authentic feeling we get from the film. John Gallagher Junior has here his best part. Rami Malek who is currently appearing in ” Need for Speed ” has the part of the new employee who serves as humorous relief in this rather difficult context. We can identify to him as we, like him, are new in this environment.
While dealing with some very tough subjects , the film doesn’t make us feel uncomfortable because like the characters of the movie it makes us put things into perspective. Sometimes life is cruel and after all, many people have suffered and that’s life. It was also the director’s wish that the film shouldn’t be too depressing. This is why the movie was over two hours at first but Destin Daniel Cretton wanted to make it less than 100 minutes to lighten up the tone of the movie and it worked(the film lasts 97 minutes ) .
And instead of dwelling on their problems , the characters try to move on and make the best of their situations at all costs even if it is not necessarily easy. This is a film about resilience. It pushes us to question our own demons and play down the importance of drama. Life is a struggle and it is hard and at the same time it is what it is. The choice we have is to decide whether we want to do everything we can to get the most of life or not. Grace is the representation of that, she uses her trauma to help others while solving her own problems.
We come out of the theater neither with the impression of having experienced a difficult time nor with the excitement of thinking that all is well in the world, but actually with the feeling that there is hope and positive things for young traumatized people as for us in general, regardless of the difficult times we can experience.
A film which has a very rare gracefulness and therefore, is a must see.