Short Term 12 and Monet Films

by cameronbarrettstewart


Short Term 12 is available on Netlfix


What is lost sometimes in the conversation on the merits of film is the fact that it is a form of art. I know that sounds like the most obvious sentence to ever be written, but I mean something more by it. Film as an art is what makes things like Award Shows all the more useless, not because of subjectivity but because of the diversity of art. If I pose the question “Who is the better artist: Monet or Dali?” That’s one tough question, because both are amazing in their own right. Some might answer the question as if it was the question “Who do you like better?” and in that case the question becomes something completely different. Personally I like Dali. And so rages on my ongoing war on objectivity versus subjectivity. The point is that Monet and Dali are apples and oranges and can only be ranked against each other in some sort of 4th dimensional ranking system.

The rocky cliffs of Étretat by Monet.jpgMonet’s The Cliffs at Etretat


Dali’s The Persistence of Memory

I brought up Monet and Dali as examples for a reason. To me the two are great representations of one of the simplest divisions in film. Monet made beautiful paintings, but the subtext wasn’t really there. Analysis of Monet seems to mostly focus on color theory over what he was trying to say with a piece. This isn’t to disparage Monet in the slightest. Look at The Cliffs at Etretat. Now if that isn’t a breathtaking work of art, I don’t know what is. But what is it trying to say? Well nothing, it’s a painting of cliffs. Then on the other hand we have Dali. Dali might as well have been called the human-metaphor. Dali’s art was rich in subtext and metaphor. Frankly had his work not had a deeper message it would have just been weird. But just because Dali has more metaphor than Monet, doesn’t make him a better artist. And this is the same case with film. I would like you to imagine a sliding scale from a film that is completely surface with its message (most likely a heavily story based film) to a film that is completely submerged in metaphor (think David Lynch or Jodorowsky). To me all films can be placed somewhere on this scale.

So why did I spend 2 paragraphs talking about that and not Short Term 12? Well to be completely honest I don’t really know what to say. Short Term 12 is a very Monet-like film. It’s a representation of the story it shows, like being a fly on the wall in this story. Its not lacking in metaphor, but all of its metaphors are tied up nicely by the end of the film. I’m trying my hardest to make my writing more about analysis and less about “the acting was good, the script was good,” so Short Term 12 is terrifying to write about. So in fear, I changed the subject. And just to let you know; the acting was good, and so was the script.

Check out the IMDB page to see the synopsis. If that synopsis sounds interesting, you will enjoy this film.

Cameron’s Rating: 8/10

Repeat Viewing Quality: 1/5

PS: If I offended anyone who is more knowledgeable of art than me, I am deeply sorry.