Short Term 12 (2013)

Dysfunctional systems still function.

Dysfunctional systems still function.


INTRODUCTION. Picked up this gem of a film from a recommendation made on Twitter! Oh, what it is to live between lines on a social network. Short Term 12 took me by surprise with its emotional intensity and gripping characters – definitely one of 2013’s stronger productions. 

STORY. The film revolves around the menagerie of people who live or work at a residential treatment centre for minors. It focuses primarily on long term staff member, Grace, and how the arrival of a new resident has begun teasing out demons from her own troubled history. Plot progression is brilliant; it discards overwrought flashbacks in favour of implication and reflection: characters who live at the centre help mirror and piece together Grace’s personal narrative, which builds up to a climax so thrilling I was almost afraid to watch it unfurl. Best of all however is the fact that the story doesn’t offer us a quick-fix to injured psyches or lost souls – nothing is perennially resolved. Yet somehow, in its struggle, Short Term 12 carries an exhilarating  sense of courage and hope.

CHARACTERS. Stunning. The personalities portrayed here are raw and very, very real. They have been written well. Nobody pushes to expound on their histories, everybody is equal parts mundane and mysterious. A fascinating mixture of intimacy and distance manages to make each resident strikingly vulnerable and yet unimpeachable. They will probably make you cry. 

CONCLUSION. I like that Short Term 12 doesn’t romanticise tragic, abusive histories. It aims for kind honesty in a dominion of human pain that we generally consider to be intangible. A shattering but healing experience. If you missed out last year, I highly recommend giving it a shot. 


STORY: 7/10

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