Finally, one more mention of this year’s Oscars. Brie Larson won a Best Actress award for Room, a film that, while admirable, was not especially watchable or rewarding (I never want to see it again). I would have complained less if she had won for this excellent indie, playing the supervisor of a group home for troubled teens called Short Term 12. Like Room, Short Term 12 (2013) sounded like it was going to be a heavy, weighty, self-important slog, but it’s surprisingly funny, warm, and subtle (very much worth seeing again). It actually opens with a counselor telling the story of how he once pooped his pants on the job. Larson plays Grace, who is having some trust issues with her boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr.). She is also drawn to a new girl, Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), and sees possible signs of abuse, which, unfortunately, Grace knows about first hand. But the movie is more than just a simple plot; it intertwines around all the characters, major and minor, counselors and teens. In two moving sequences, we get a sample of the teens using creativity to overcome their troubles; they’re shattering, but they could make you grateful to be alive.
Writer and director Destin Cretton based his feature on his own 2008 short film, which was, in turn, based on his own experiences working with troubled teens. This movie is available via Hoopla (https://www.hoopladigital.com/title/11165552), which is totally free and requires nothing more than being a member of your local library (check to see if yours uses this service). Once you log in, users can check out or stream 20 titles per month (eBooks, audiobooks, music, comics, TV, and movies); everything has a different “due” date, movies last 72 hours before disappearing back into the void.
In case you missed them, here are our recommendations from last week.