The person who has experienced the most pain and suffering is most capable of compassion. Such deep compassion leads to fearless action. This is a concept artfully pursued by the new film masterpiece written and directed by Destin Cretton. The film draws us in with humor and mercifully ends with it. In between those whimisical storytelling moments are a beautifully edited ninety minutes that keep you constantly riveted in mesmerizing understated realism.
Every once in a blue moon, a skilled director casts lesser known actors with immense talent. The result are films like "City of God" (2002), "Acalypto" (2006), and "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (2012). Films that transport you so entirely as to make you forget that acting is taking place on the screen. Short Term 12 falls into this category.
Brie Larson gives a stand out performance that will almost definitely earn an Oscar nod in the leading role. Her Grace is a complex protagonist who at times loses her very grip on reality. The genius of the performance is that young Larson never cast judgment upon the character thus drawing us in even further.
I do not want to spoil any of the dramatic twists and turns and surprises of the film, but I place it in the same category as "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) for its dramatic impact, and I am already adding this to my top five movie list of 2013.