One of the most exciting things about "Days Like This" running the festival circuit has been to be among the discussion surrounding film as it exists today. One things I've noticed everywhere from Palm Springs to the random musings of twitter is the discussion of females in positions of focus. It's a hot-bud topic and for those powerful men in Hollywood, it's certainly not going away. Directors, actors, writers, and producers can reasonably say that they are underrepresented in the Hollywood sphere. While I agree with almost everything being spoken about this inequality, I love to see someone approach that stereotype with action rather than words. Cue Short Term 12 and the incredible Brie Larson.
Short Term 12 is a film about a group home featuring both those in it and those who run it. Brie Larson plays Grace, a mentor who leads with tough resolve and a warm heart. Larson's character was deeply developed as she gives a wonderfully nuanced performance of both internal and external struggles. After seeing the film, I found myself considering her a "strong female lead." What surprised me on further inspection was that she could not be more different from the usual Meryl Streep type lead. Grace has trouble sharing her feelings. She often rejects an her patient boyfriend (hilariously played by John Gallagher Jr. by the way). When she discovers she's pregnant, she rejects the whole world and pours herself into her group home kids. This was not an example of an unwavering, fearless leader, but rather a 20-something who is trying as hard to figure out the world as anyone else is. In the way that Richard Parker is the reason Pi endures, Grace hangs on because of the kids who need her.
What sets her into the realm of "strong female lead" though is the passion of both Grace the character and the abandon that Larson plays her with. So much so that it was a bit jarring to see interviews with Larson being especially sweet. I hope more filmmakers take a clue from this performance and choose to split time between genders.
Other ST12 notes:
1. Short Term 12 has a very moving score. I'm very excited to see more of composer Joel P West as people begin to notice his work.
2. I didn't know I'd love John Gallagher Jr. so much.
3. Go see it while you still can! Trailer