"Short Term 12," a new independent film written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, tells the troubling tale about teenagers living in a group foster home. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman filed the following report for NY1.
The best independent films give audiences the feeling that their directors not only wanted, but also needed to make them.
That’s the feeling viewers get from "Short Term 12," a drama of astonishing emotional purity that has the novel setting of a group foster home.
Written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the film is about a crew of teenagers, deeply troubled and out of sorts, who live in drab institutional rooms and try to patch together their community of fellow foster kids into a makeshift family.
The situation has a built-in heartbreak, but Cretton doesn’t milk it.
Instead, he lets each character strike a note of lived-in reality that is rarely found in children on screen.
"Short Term 12" lures viewers into its passion and trauma. The film catches viewers up in the journey from self-mutilation to shaky redemption undergone by Jayden, played by Kaitlyn Dever, who masks her innocence in attitude, and also in the story of Marcus, played by Keith Stanfeld, who is the moodiest and most brilliant of the kids.
The group home is run by counselors, who are former foster children themselves, and that’s the film’s way of showing how deep and lasting the scars from this kind of childhood can be.
Brie Larson plays the caring yet tormented Grace, who is pregnant and doesn’t know if she has the faith to have her baby, and John Gallagher Jr. plays her gentle dweeb fellow worker and boyfriend, who fears that his love can’t save her.
These two actors show what emotionally naked acting is all about.