Short Term 12 stars Brie Larson (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom) as Grace and Mason, a young couple working together in a juvenile care home. Grace is tasked with guiding the troubled youngsters, many of whom come from backgrounds where they have been abused or neglected, through the trials of growing up, but finds herself unable to be as open about her own feelings as she encourages them to be.
The script is based on writer/director Destin Cretton's experiences working in a similar facility after college, and was first made as a short film that screened at Sundance in 2008 and carried the rather chilling tagline: "A film about kids and the grown-ups who hit them."
Short Term 12 is currently in the middle of its festival run (it screened at Seattle International Film Festival this week), but Yahoo has just released an official trailer for the film (watch above) that lists a more general release date of August 23rd.
Dozens of quiet, unassuming indie dramas without big-name stars attached to them come out every year, but what makes Short Term 12 stand out from the crowd, aside from the fact that it recently walked away from SXSW with the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, is the number of rave reviews it's been receiving. Cretton's study of life working with forgotten teens and children has reportedly been earning standing ovations and tears throughout its festival run. Here is just a small sample of what the critics have said:
Katie Walsh - The Playlist
"You care about these characters as workers before you know their histories, which, when revealed, illuminate and deepen them further as people. These reveal moments can be both shocking and touching, but everything fits together like a puzzle, all of the pieces scattered throughout the film finding their place... 'Short Term 12' is a roller coaster of every emotion, managing to be both heartwarming and heartrending at once. But what a great ride. [A]"
John DeFore - The Hollywood Reporter
"Effortlessly balanced... Both the scripted material and the young actor's delivery produce the kind of hold-your-breath moment more ostentatiously serious films shoot for often and achieve rarely. [Cinematographer] Brett Pawlak's handheld camerawork and Cretton's unsentimental direction have a frankness that acknowledges the dramatic extremes in these lives without needing to parade it before the audience."
Peter Debruge - Variety
"[A] meticulously crafted script, designed like an artichoke to reveal its heart slowly as new information comes to light with each scene. Any time the story has a chance to fall back on cliche, it breaks off in a different direction, allowing audiences to be emotionally blindsided by sincere, well-earned moments."
Recent statistics from the US Department of Health and Human Services found there to be over 400,000 children currently in foster care in the US, so it's great to see a film tackle this subject matter head-on, and to be so universally well-received. Despite its humble origins, Short Term 12 is getting a lot of coverage purely due to the strong reactions that audiences are having, and it wouldn't be surprising to see it walk away with a few more prizes before the festival run is over.
Have you seen Short Term 12 yet? If so, let us know what you thought of it, and whether all this hype is justified. If you haven't, does the buzz make you want to check it out?
Short Term 12 is out on limited release on August 23rd, 2013, but if you don't want to wait that long you can also see it at the LA Film Festival on June 14th & 15th, Maui Film Festival on June 16th, BAMcinemaFest (NYC) on June 28th, Nantucket Film Festival on June 29th or Rooftop Films (NYC) on July 20th.