Exploring the art of storytelling.
“Short Term 12” ended the same way it had started. In both the opening and concluding scenes, Mason told a story to his coworkers about one of the kids and his time at work. And in both cases, Sammy made a run for it, interrupting their story time. This framing device provided a cyclical structure to the film, representing that the story is continuous.
The film started with Nate’s first day working at Short Term 12. Just like Nate, we were the new guys who didn’t entirely know what we were signing up for. We paralleled Nate’s journey. At the inception, we received a proper introduction to the workers, kids, and facility. This was a smart and creative way to start the film.
During the opening credits of “Short Term 12,” we were shown images of the kids’ rooms and their things, giving us an introduction to the characters and the setting. We saw what they cared about and what interested them. We also saw how they lived. Right off the bat, we had already learned so much.
Director, Destin Daniel Cretton was very meticulous, focusing on the details of each scene. For example, Cretton constantly cut to shots of Grace scratching her thumb. As the film progressed, we started seeing a band-aid on her thumb, illustrating that her scratching wasn’t going away. This small detail revealed that Grace was hiding personal anxieties. It added so much information and character development to the film. Cretton was smart in incorporating details, such as the scratching, into “Short Term 12.” He did a lot of showing, rather than telling.
Not once in “Short Term 12” did we see Grace wear makeup. I thought this was powerful on many levels. First off, this added specificity to Grace’s character. She doesn’t care about physical appearances. She is more interested in a person’s internal beauty. Secondly, it made Grace more vulnerable. She didn’t have a mask to hide herself. This was a great choice made by the makeup team.
I’m a big fan of Brie Larson (Grace). I thought her acting in “21 Jump Street” was impressive, but this performance proved that she can play any role with grace (See what I did there?). She is versatile and skilled. She makes acting look easy.
John Gallagher Jr. (Mason) was amazing at acting in love. He brought strength, vulnerability, and charm to his character. I fully believed Mason when he told Grace that he loved her. Gallagher Jr. made their love story beautiful. In addition to that, Gallagher Jr. and Larson had great chemistry together.
Working with underprivileged children isn’t easy, but it’s greatly rewarding. “Short Term 12” didn’t sugarcoat this lifestyle. It showed both the good and the ugly. It showed how dedicated those workers are to making the children’s lives better. But it also showed how challenging it can be to deal with people who have been extremely hurt. One instance that stood out was when Jayden spit in Nate’s face.
“Short Term 12” made me appreciate the life I have. It put things into perspective. It also made me appreciate people like Grace and Mason, who devote their time to helping others. “Short Term 12” inspired me to help people. I want to spread joy and be a positive influence on the world.