Like most things, I made the impulse decision to see Short Term 12 at the TIFF Bell Light box last night. After a grueling week and a half of being in an edit suite working on a TV documentary, this was a well-needed break.
But while breaks are a happy occasion, this movie made me feel a variety of emotions. I laughed, I cried and I felt that I actually knew these characters on a personal level. It all just felt so organic.
Of course this can be owed to Brie Larson who plays Grace, a long-term care worker who helps abused teenagers. Serious and professional about her job, she’s dealing with her own personal issues. So much so that even her longtime boyfriend and coworker Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) has trouble getting into her thoughts. With a rough past of her own, Grace suppresses her bad memories until she meets a young girl named Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), who reminds her of herself.
I realize that the movies are filled with huge blockbuster hits like Thor 2 and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. But you shouldn’t let this indie slip under your nose. The supporting characters each have their own compelling stories of difficult pasts and you can’t but help route for each of them to do well. Larson plays Grace with such authenticity and vulnerability that this film should be the launching pad for her acting career. She and Gallagher have great chemistry and her interactions with Dever are dynamic. Another heartbreaking yet touching performance is offered by Keith Stanfield who plays Marcus, a teen approaching his 18th birthday but has trouble accepting the fact that he must leave the care facility.
Short Term 12 is only playing at the TIFF Bell Light box right now in Toronto. I made the foolish mistake of missing The Spectacular Now during its limited release in the summer. Don’t be like me. You can watch all the blockbuster movies when you want sooner or later. Indie films like these are gems that will definitely make you feel something real.