Short Term 12 features something extraordinary in modern filmmaking; exceptionally believable characters who mirror our own frailties and limitations. There was never a moment in the film that was insincere or unconvincing.
This is the story of Grace and Mason, two caretakers at a short term foster care facility for at-risk teenagers. Brie Larson, as Grace, is tough and tender and runs the facility with a firm but loving hand. John Gallagher Jr., as Mason, is her sounding board and safe place. These two have barely passed their teenage years, and the weight of their difficult journeys raises their empathy while building their defenses. We come to recognize Grace as a survivor, and we are aware how acutely she feels the teenager’s pain.
This terrific movie alternates between light-hearted joy and painful darkness. The characters vacillate between strength and despair. Above all, there is courage and dignity in these truly authentic young people who fight for survival and a chance to reverse their predestined fate.