Short Term 12: a Netflix gem

Tyler Manning

Brie Larson and Lakeith Stanfield in Short Term 12 (2013). Photo courtesy of IMDB

I always wince when I hear the phrase: “Netflix doesn’t have any good movies.” One reason that I think many people come to this conclusion is because they overlook a major film genre that is incredibly important: the independent film.

You see, I can agree that Netflix did not provide many well known properties at one point in time; however, it still offered a plethora of great “indie” films. One independent film in particular that I always recommend people to watch on Netflix is Short Term 12.

Short Term 12 is a film that tells the story of Grace, a young woman working at a residential treatment facility for children and teenagers. She is confronted with a patient that shares similar background to her and through her interaction with this patient, she learns to confront her own inner struggles. The film stars Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr, Rami Malek and Stephanie Beatriz. Short Term 12  is also written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton.

What I admire most about this movie is that it is a genuine study of abuse and the harmful effects it has on the mental health and growth of a child. It tells people abuse is not something to be looked at negatively and should be given critical thought and attention.

I could go on about how well-executed this film is. The cinematography helps enhance the sense of authenticity, all of the acting is superb and the writing is well done.

Brie Larson is an absolute delight in this film. Her performance is genuine and she exudes a presence that is nourishing and motherly. It is hard to take your eyes off her when she is on screen just because of how captivating she is in this film. John Gallagher also gives a great performance as her love interest. He acts as someone who cares for and wants to emotionally support Grace. His performance is equally believable. Both actors have great chemistry and you never once doubt that these two are genuinely in love. I firmly believe that if these actors were replaced, the film would be lesser because of it.

This movie also features a handful of exceptionally good child actors. Usually, I am skeptical when younger actors are featured in film, just because of the inconsistencies in their performances; however, they all do a good job and only elevate the quality of the film.

What also helps add to the quality of the film is the writing. Dialogue between characters feels natural, never feeling forced or unrealistic. The interplay between characters is fluid and overall the chain of events in this film feels like it is a product of characters’ decisions and not in service of a story.

Overall, I cannot get over how much I adore this picture. Rarely does a film captivate me in such a way that I am left with its impression a full year after my initial viewing. Short Term 12 is the epitome of how powerful a character driven narrative can be while also being a strong example of great indie film making. If you have yet to watch this movie and have a Netflix account, wait no longer and give this movie a watch. You will not regret it.

Rating : 9/10