Movie Review: SHORT TERM 12 - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Terry's Take

Movie Review: SHORT TERM 12

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Writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton got his start in community television on Maui before going on to film school in California.  Now, in this thirties, the filmmaker has created SHORT TERM 12,  a really strong drama that's showing in theaters across the country.
 
The film is a touching, well acted drama about kids in a foster care group home and the young staff members who try to help them.  And it's based on the actual experience of the director who worked in institutional foster care for two years after he graduated from college.

What makes SHORT TERM 12 special are its realistic characters and the emotional honesty of its well written story.
 
Brie Larson (UNITED STATES OF TARA)  is terrific as Grace, a staffer in the group home who's trying to ignore a troubled past of her  own. Nate is a new employee who doesn't know what he's gotten himself into.
Grace tells Nate: Remember, you're not their parent; your not their therapist; you're here to create a safe environment. that's it.
Nate: Got it.
 
But Nate gets himself into trouble even as he's introducing himself to the group of foster kids at a meeting.
Nate: I took a year off of school because I just wanted to get some life experience, and I always wanted to work with underprivileged kids.
Marcus (an older kid): What the **** is that supposed to mean?
Grace: Marcus, settle down.
Marcus: I wanna know what you mean by that.

And then there's the new girl, Jayden, played by Kaitlyn Dever.
 
Grace: Would you introduce yourself?
Jayden: Please don't be offended if I'm not very friendly, but I'm gonna be living with my dad soon and I don't really like wasting time on short term relationships. It's nothing personal.

The other main character is Mason, Grace's partner in work and in love.  He's played by John Gallagher Jr of HBO'S "THE NEWSROOM."
   
Both Mason and Grace are former foster kids who take better care of these teenagers than they do of themselves.

Marcus (to Grace): I've been waiting for three years for you to just once take the advice you give the kids every five minutes and learn to talk about what's going on inside your head.

Both Marcus and Grace care deeply about the kids they work with.

Grace: I'm on the floor every day with those kids. And last night that girl sat next to me and she cried and she tried to tell me the only way she could.
Grace's boss: Grace, it's not your job to interpret tears.

The pain Grace uncovers and shares with Jayden is almost her undoing --SHORT TERM 12  is all about coming to terms with the bad things that have happened in your life.

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.                     thunter@hawaiinewsnow.com