There are over 100 films released every year, and sometimes there are great films that go unnoticed either by critics, the populace, or both. Here on Second Chance Cinema, we will spotlight films we believe deserves a second chance.
SHORT TERM 12 is one of those rare gems that you stumble upon going when trying to find something to watch on Netflix that completely surprises you with the quality acting and how affecting the story is.
The film follows Grace, played by Brie Larson who gives a powerful performance, as a supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility that houses foster children. Through out the film we are introduced to many of the children who are stuck in the system and how it affects their lives. Grace, who has been through this exact same system when she was a child, really cares about these kids and goes above and beyond her job description to do what she can to help and protect them. Each character is beautifully fleshed out, and they go beyond your typical one-dimensional troubled child with issues that we see a lot in films like this. The film is not afraid to show how hard and sad it can be to feel left behind and forgotten. The film is raw with its emotions and it is so refreshing to see as I have never felt so connected to peoples stories like I have when I watched this film.
Not only is the writing phenomenal, but the acting by the whole cast is outstanding. Brie Larson give a star making performance as the complex and flawed Grace. She’s magnetic and you can’t take your eyes off her. Her relationship with her boyfriend Mason, played John Gallagher Jr., is one of the high points of the film. It is one of the most honest, true, and realistic relationships I’ve seen in a film. The film ignores the normal rocky relationship stereotypes, as it digs deeper to show a troubled, but loving, relationship. What made this relationship so believable is the palpable chemistry between Larson and Gallagher. Gallagher is so wonderful as Mason, as he is the rock of the film. Where everyone around him is very close to falling apart, he is the one that does his best to make sure none of that happens. In the film, there is a scene he makes moving speech to his own foster parents, and every single time I see that scene, it makes me tear up.
The young adults in this film were also fantastic. Kaitlyn Dever gives a very strong performances in her portrayal of Jayden, a new resident to the treatment facility. This character could have been easily written off as a typical sarcastic spoiled teenager, but she gives her so many layers and pathos, you can’t help but root for her. Keith Stanfield also gives a standout performance as Marcus, who is about to turn 18 and leave the treatment center. I dare you not to be moved during the scene where Marcus is sharing a new song lyrics with Mason.
From the very first scene to the very last, the film grabs a hold of you and wont let go. It tells a story of struggle and redemption in a way I’ve never really seen before. I had no idea this is how the foster system worked, and the film does not shy away from the darker side of the struggles of being in that world. I commend the writer and director of the film, Destin Daniel Cretton, for letting us take a peak into an unknown world and to give us such rich and complex story and characters. I was deeply moved by this film, and it has become one of my all time favorites.