This month I watched the movie Short Term 12 (recommended to me by the very awesome Ali S.).
Short Term 12 focuses on a woman named Grace (played by Brie Larson), a supervisor for a group home called Short Term 12. Unlike other movies about troubled minors, Short Term 12 focuses on the people working with the kids on the front lines instead of the doctors and therapists, giving the audience a unique perspective on the group home experience.
If I were to describe this movie in one word, it would be symmetrical. The writers worked to make sure that everything about the movie was carefully balanced, mirroring the struggle that the caretakers face balancing their personal and professional lives. Early on, the audience sees how seamless the workers have to transition into crisis mode, as a character is telling a story to his coworkers, only to stop and chase after a resident attempting to make an escape. Once they catch the kid, he finishes telling the story as if nothing happened. This scene is mirrored in the ending, albeit in a slightly different context.
Another thing that was stressed in this film was the fact that the some caretakers have emotional scars of their own and are also a product of the system. It makes sense, really. They understand what the children are going through because they went through it themselves, allowing them to relate on a more fundamental level. This mutual understanding is particularly emphasized with the character Grace. Interestingly, Grace also grapples with the decision to become a parent herself, as her troubled childhood forces her to question her parental competency.
The thing that I enjoyed about this movie was the fact that everything seemed pretty realistic, some parts depressingly so. Not everyone was as sensitive to the kid's struggles as Grace. There's the naive newcomer who doesn't realize that he needs to connect with the children and understand they've had a hard life. There's the put-upon administrator whose heart is in the right place but has to follow the letter of the law. It really helped me gain some insight in the foster care system and how these children live.
I would definitely recommend this movie solely for that reason. It's also pretty dynamic with a lot of cuts and jumps, plus it comes in at an entirely manageable 90 minute run time.
Check it out!