96 minutes, U.S.A., 2013, Colour, D-Cinema

Grace (Brie Larson) is a serious woman in her 20s, a supervisor at a foster-care home for at-risk teenagers. She’s devoted to her job to such a degree that her relationship with boyfriend and co-worker Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) appears to be a secondary concern and remains a secret to most. Grace presents herself as a no-nonsense figure, but when troubled Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) comes into her care, buried secrets from Grace’s past begin to emerge. The winner of the Narrative Competition’s prize at SXSW this year, Destin Daniel Cretton’s striking feature is a deeply affecting work based on the director’s own experiences of working in a facility similar to the one depicted here. 

While taking on serious issues, particularly with regard to how a society cares for its vulnerable youth, Cretton allows moments of lightness and humour that serve to highlight the film’s emotional honesty. (Notes by Michael Hayden.)

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