What is home when home is not safe? This seems to be one of the questions posed by the stellar film Short Term 12 which is playing to appreciative audiences in festivals around the country.
After seeing Short Term 12, the opening selection for the Knoxville Film Festival (a collaborative effort between Knoxville’s Dogwood Arts Festival and Oak Ridge’s Secret City Film Festival) last evening, I have been musing about the ways we find solace and a safe place to reveal who we really are.
The movie is set in a group home for troubled children who have the good luck to be in the care of Grace, the home’s lead staff member.
Grace, as fully inhabited by gifted actress Brie Larson, creates a safe, organized, caring environment and gives them home’s residents space to creatively find their own way in the world. Grace intuitively knows how to help her charges since she survived–and is still surviving–her own abusive home.
Perhaps better than any other recent movie that comes to mind, Short Term 12 shows that we save ourselves when we save others. We heal when we help people who are struggling with similar issues to our own and when we risk sharing our stories with those who care about us.
Beautifully told and acted, Short Term 12 is simply told and more viscerally powerful in its simplicity. This parable suggests to me that we make our way in the world by cobbling together our family of choice. See the movie if you can.
And with the happenstance of life’s random nature, my husband Kurt and I have recently been watching another type of home, a coerced home if you will, in Netflix’s wonderful series Orange is the New Black.
Set in a minimum-security prison, Orange tells the story of a 30-or-so-year-old, well-educated woman, Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling), who finds herself incarcerated when an eight-years-ago flame seeking a reduced sentence names her as a drug mule.
We are addicted. The show is hilarious, terrifying, thoughtful, addictive, and self-assured. Its characters are completely realized, with situations as random and true-to-life as the adventures of modern existence.
Orange is the kind of show the broadcast networks and cable TV have abandoned in their chase for the lowest common denominator of reality shows that are absent any real reality.
Orange Is the New Black and BBC America’s Luther (both available on Netflix) are the two most addictively alive shows around. Watch them and find yourself transported never to be seen by your friends for 13 episodes!
~ Anna 9/20/2013