Short Term 12 (2013) – Netflix Pick of the Week

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tumblr_n0uq80EVlX1rqqh2uo1_1280After opening to critical acclaim at 2013’s SXSW festival, Short Term 12 has secured its place as one of the best indie dramas of the past 5 years. Based around the staff and teenagers of a group care facility, its honest approach to challenging subject matter and rock-solid performances across the board combine to create a deeply moving film that dips between light and shade with measured finesse.

Inspired by director Destin Daniel Cretton’s experiences while working in a similar home, the realism and authenticity of Short Term 12 encourages a deep investment into its characters and their stories; this compelling aura is furthered by Cretton’s decision to shoot in handheld, his documentary background allowing him to employ a naturalistic filter over the story.

Cretton’s masterstroke is his phenomenal use of lingering close-ups, capturing the emotional nuance of his actors in scenes where subtlety is key. These are especially enchanting when focused on Brie Larson and her staggeringly powerful performance in the lead role. Larson establishes herself as the face of minimalist expression throughout Short Term 12, developing her character or playing out entire scenes with deliberate restraint, giving a masterclass in eyes-only acting.Sprinkled with bittersweet humour throughout, Short Term 12 stands as a hypnotic and emotionally forceful film. It rejects the heavy-handed sentimentality of typical melodramatic indie productions in favour of allowing the narrative to gently present itself with delicate precision.

Written by James Excell
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Short Term 12 is available to stream on Netflix in the UK & USA.