Short/Feature: Short Term 12

Short Term 12 cover

Short Term 12

The Short:

Short Term 12 short screenshot

Year: 2008 | Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Literally the only way I could find this short film was by buying the Short Term 12 Blu-ray from Amazon, and after watching it, I can kind of see why. I haven’t seen the feature film since it came out back in 2013, but I definitely don’t remember it being so unrelentingly tragic and bleak.

Compared to other short/feature combos I’ve watched, like The Way He Looks and Whiplash (both 2014), I will say that Short Term 12 is perhaps the best example of a microcosm of what the feature film actually ended up being. Thankfully the feature didn’t make me feel as empty and hopeless as the short did.

Language: English
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 21 min.
Rating: Not Rated

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring: Brad William Henke, Tania Verafield, Lakeith Stanfield, Adam Shapiro, Phoenix Henke

The Feature:

Short Term 12 feature screenshot

Year: 2013 | Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I was quite nervous going into my rewatch of Short Term 12 because, as I mentioned above, while I remembered it being a remarkably empathetic and cathartic experience when I first watched it back in 2013, the short had a significantly bleaker and less life-affirming tone. Well, I’m happy to report that the feature-length version of this story does have a much softer edge to it than the short, and that the compassion and hope that I remembered remains in tact upon second viewing.

With that being said, I do think that this film isn’t aging quite as well as I had hoped that it would; its tone is very “early-2010s Sundance feature,” which was fine in 2013 because that exactly what it was, but comes off as a little cliché and trite now. And while Lakeith Stanfield still steals the show with an incredible debut performance, the portrayal of Marcus’s character is a tad stereotypical and less nuanced than it probably should be in hindsight. In writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton’s defense, a lot has changed since 2013, and it’s not necessarily the fault of the film nor its author for being a product of its time.

And even with these emerging shortcomings, Short Term 12 is still a beautiful film about coming to terms with the things that have happened to you and breaking the cycle. I’ve written in length in other reviews about my own struggles with childhood abuse and the aftermath I’ve dealt with well into adulthood, and it’s in large thanks to films like this (among others) that I’ve been able to put my own past into perspective and move forward as well as I know how to. Short Term 12 might not be the masterpiece that I remember it being, but I know for a fact that it’s helped at least one person with these issues, and when a film is able to have those kind of real-world consequences on its audience, it’s easy to forgive it for its faults.

Language: English
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 1 hr. 36 min.
Rating: R

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Rami Malek, Lakeith Stanfield

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