Watch Exclusive 'Short Term 12' Clip: Now that the summer movie season is coming to a close, those who have had their fill of dazzling effects and explosions that make up the season's blockbusters may find cinematic solace in something smaller and more personal — a film that features characters with no visible powers other than the fact that they are flawed and instantly relatable, for example.
In that regard,"Short Term 12" is a summer movie palette cleanser, one about battling demons, not of the CGI variety, but that which is personal. Written and directed by newcomer Destin Cretton, the story revolves around a group of quarter-lifers working at a care center for foster kids and features a group of actors (Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Keith Stanfield) who've turned in some attention-getting performances.
Yahoo! Movies recently caught up with Larson to talk about the buzz surrounding the film, why the story resonates with so many who have seen it, and the benefits in being put through the emotional wringer as an actor and audience member.
At what point in reading the script did you know this was a film you wanted to be involved with?
Brie Larson: It's been kind of a new meditation throughout the process, I personally was excited to play a character that was so multifaceted and giving and caring and also struggling internally. I've never seen such a well-written female role, someone who is a balance of many things and trying to do this role of mother and in the process forgetting to mother herself and that is something I have struggled with and have had experience with for most of my life, being concerned with others's happiness and in the end being exhausted, wondering how can you go on.
You spent some time at a foster care center before filming. What was one important takeaway from that experience?
BL: There's a lot that I learned from it and still feel like I'm learning. But for me, personally, the big life lesson — and I cannot stress enough, among so many things — from this process was that I learned to let go, which has always been a hard thing for me. I shadowed a woman who had worked there for 23 years. By the time I met her and at the end of one day I was torn up and exhausted and confused and my mind was reeling, because you just want to know how to fix it, you start thinking about all the ways you can do it and all the ways that you've failed, and so I asked her, "How do you do this? How have you done this for so long, how do you find the strength?" And she said, "You let go." Her philosophy is when you're there with those kids, you do everything in your power to love them and support them and guide them but at the end of the day when you go home you don't continue fighting like that, you take a bath, you watch a show that you like, you do a hobby, things for yourself that recharge [yourself] because if you don't do that then you burn out and you crack. These kids are so broken, so used to being let down that they are constantly testing you to see if you're going to let them down. So, in order to do so, you have to set aside your own time. I had never heard that before and I had never had it put so clearly to me, it became my mantra throughout the whole process.
[Related: 'Short Term 12' Earns Standing Ovation]
Now that more people are starting to see the film, is there one common thing they want to talk about?
BL: It isn't a [universal] response, it becomes a different meditation for a lot of people depending on what your struggles are in your life. The movie deals with all those big struggles: your past, your future, your present, parenting. It's been very exciting because sometimes when you have to talk about a movie, so much it becomes a self reflection on one thing and with this I feel like it's a broader stroke and more than a relationship movie, more than a foster care movie, it becomes just a human movie. I've felt a lot of pride in that I've had every sex, shape, size, race, every type of person you can imagine come up to me and say, "I'm Grace." And I'm so proud of that. It's a miraculous thing that so many types of people can relate to that struggle. Not feeling comfortable talking about themselves, it brought a lot of things to the surface for people and becomes sort of a therapeutic cry. There is a lot of crying that happens during the movie and a lot of times people don't even know why. It's something you deal with after the fact.
It's a nice thing to actually feel while you're watching a movie, to be moved.
BL: Yeah, that doesn't happen enough anymore — especially when I feel like this movie doesn't ask that of you. That's the other thing that's fascinating. This is the only time I've watched a movie I've done more than one time. I've probably watched it five-to-six times at this point because I find new things in it, new meditations, new feelings. I cry when I watch, I feel for those people and I know those people. I find the movie so non- manipulative and that's part of what makes it so great and why I'm proud of it. I hope to do, more often, films that are inspiring and hopeful and make you feel.
Watch 'Short Term 12' Theatrical Trailer: