It’s rare to find a film like “Short Term 12.” It’s a movie that is marvelously small in scope, and has no grand ambitions or self-created pretentiousness. Left in their place is a truly moving story that wears its heart on its sleeve. This story, one of messed-up people trying to help and understand each other, is vividly human. Much of the credit must go to the actors here. The two leads, Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr., both work at a short term home for adolescents with unsafe home lives. Where some actors are allowed the privilege of speaking their thoughts aloud, the tangled web that is Larson and Gallagher’s relationship is created largely through expression alone. Gallagher, whosecharacter Mason is much more willing to share his struggles than his girlfriend Grace, is excellent as a man who is equal parts in love with, fascinated by, and frustrated by a girl who simply can’t dig in. Larson is, if possible, even better. She finds something in Grace that would’ve been easily lost by most. She is as messed up as anyone in this film, but – perhaps through age – has found ways to hide it better. “Short Term 12” is beautiful. The screenplay is grounded in believable dialogue that never even comes close to trite, and the direction is superb in that it knows the story it’s telling, and isn’t afraid to let the actors lead the way in telling it. Everything is carried so elegantly that the film’s conclusion comes as both a welcome relief and a sad farewell. We’ve lived with these people, and we’ve carried their incredibly real and complicated burdens. I can’t say anything else. See it.

Allen is a member of 

the class of 2017.

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