It's a small, quiet independent film about a short-term group care home and it's really wonderful. The film is dealing with some really harrowing subject matter but I came away from it feeling surprisingly elated; walking home afterwards I was consumed by a feeling of heart-expanding contentment. It wasn't just a response to the quality of the acting/production either, it was the story itself that left me so full of joy. Running throughout the film was the idea that however terrible things are in life, there are always moments of hope and happiness. Just because one person couldn't love you right doesn't mean that no-one ever will; just because your past has been full of pain and grief doesn't mean that your future will be. The characters' faith in that concept wavers throughout the film and it's that conflict which provides the plot but the despair is never absolute. For all that the film is rooted in abuse narratives, at its heart are moments of kindness and love, some fleeting, others more consistent. Always both surprising and completely natural. The film knows that it's impossible to cling to such happiness in the face of true adversity but never doubts for a second that respite is on the way; hope is never unfounded.
Two of my favourite film critics Film Crit Hulk and Alyssa Rosenburg each reviewed the film with far more eloquence than I can muster. I think FCH put it best however: "IT'S A FILM THAT IS AS EXPANSIVE AS THE HUMAN HEART." It's less than three weeks in to the new year but I'd be very surprised if I see anything else in 2014 that moved and delighted me to the same extent that Short Term 12 did.