Short Term 12: REVIEW


An intimate gem of a movie about tackling personal demons, and the power of grace.  

A foster-care group home may seem an unlikely setting for a love story.

Grace (the amazing Brie Larson) is a young woman who helps “under-privileged kids” overcome their past traumas in the foster care system… Just don’t call them “under-privileged kids.” They don’t like that.

As much as she gives to others and supports the teenagers she’s charged with looking after, she refuses to let others in to see her own struggles and past traumas. The dramatic, touching, and heartfelt Short Term 12 shows us a deeply broken young woman who gives grace, love, and acceptance to everyone she meets– but who refuses to accept grace and unconditional love herself.

Short Term 12 is true, in all ways a fictional story can be. It never feels manipulated, manufactured, or “written.” It is real, raw, and gritty as it seems to drop in on and observe the lives and struggles of this young social worker and her loyal boyfriend who work together in a group home called Short Term 12.

Short Term 12 is an unmissable story about redemption, acceptance, and grace. This is a film that brings hope through looking at the dirty and ugly things of the world. Evil is shown for what it is– evil. In this, the light of redemption and hope shines through. Yet, for all its drama, anger-inducing glimpses of injustice, and moments of heartbreak, Short Term 12 is uplifting, lighthearted, and even humorous. It is an amazingly crafted story that brings heart-wrenching tears, hearty laughs, groans of grief, and cries of joy. Sort of like life.

+ Brie Larson came out of nowhere, and gives an incredible performance as the compassionate social worker with a sense of humor
+ Never feels like a “fictional story,” but real
+ A refreshing look at loyalty, acceptance, and understanding within relationships
+ The passion of Director Destin Cretton is seen in every frame
+ Completely original

Some audiences may not connect as easy with the slow pacing



Short Term 12 is a passionate, dramatic, and intimate story of a young woman who gives to and accepts the teenagers she works with, but can’t bring herself to be vulnerable and receive grace from others. It is a heartfelt and humorous film about accepting people as they are– broken (as we all are). What a fantastic story full of rich characters and fresh thoughts about the way we live in relationship with others.


Short Term 12 is rated R for “language and brief sexuality.” Most of the language, while not excessive, comes from the teenagers in the group home as they talk among each other. A couple is shown getting intimate with each other, but they stop before anything really happens. Short Term 12 is not suitable for children, but I do think it is a redemptive and hopeful film that might benefit older audiences. 

© Matt Tory, 2014. 

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