It's incredibly difficult to set a film inside a home for at-risk kids and not have it come off as sappy or preachy or cliched, but Short Term 12 is one of those rare movies that manages to steer clear of all those trappings while delivering a powerful story about adults and children relying on one another to move past abusive upbringings and mental instability in order to discover a life that's rewarding and full of love.
Short Term 12 is tremendous in the way it portrays the almost super-human strengths and debilitating weaknesses born out of long-term abuse, and its emotional roller coaster of a script is part of the reason why it took home the biggest prize at this year's SXSW Film Festival: a Grand Jury award for Narrative Feature. Additional kudos go to a fantastic, gut-wrenching performance from Brie Larson (more on her later) and the intimate direction of Destin Cretton, who also wrote the script, which is actually based on a short film of the same name that premiered at Sundance a few years back (and won an award there too).
The short is available to rent online via iTunes for $1.99, and you can watch the trailer -- which includes several variations of scenes included in the feature -- below. Expect Short Term 12 to pop up later in the year, and we wouldn't be surprised to see Brie Larson in the running for an Independent Spirit Award when the time comes either.
Follow along on Twitter @ErikDavis and @Moviesdotcom.