Ba lot of things and at the same time, not enough. This STATES OF GRACE is a film that is truly iconic of the independent production american, ensconced in its lack of originality and sincerity as well as being very good.
The independent film, what is it already ?
It’s a genre that has virtually masters : a few rare surnagent above the rest, having managed to renew themselves in time, while having a tone that is immediately identifiable (The Coen, Friedkin, Allen, Scorsese…), when some are nothing more than parodies of themselves (Malick, Lynch, Scorsese…), or the authors ‘ widely looted, to being dispossessed of their own personality, (Scorsese, Coppola, De Palma, etc.).
What remains are a few small geniuses : those who have managed to find their personality without too much showing their influences (P. T. and Wes Anderson, Aronofsky, Dominik…), those who subvert the hollywood system (Nolan, Cuaron, Tarantino…), and then those, immature, whose early achievements point to a future films masterpieces, but the film still lacks precision (Carruth, Durkin, Nichols, Reichardt, Cianfrance, etc.).
Most of the rest of the independent production may be under 2 forms :
– A declension of the work of an author, a film iconic. The result can redefine the original inspiration in the best case (Tarantino, Lowery…), be opportunistic, and dishonest at worst.
– An independent film that lets itself be contaminated by the rules set by hollywood cinema : if we except the rhythm (often a simulated real-time, which favours the long scenes describing a specific moment in a story based on the story), and shape (in general, a stamp : shooting on the go, uptake closer to the body, emotions, camera on shoulder etc), it is mainly at the level of the content that the strength of the proposal is lost, if is standardized.
Thus, instead of a freedom of subject matter and creativity at little cost, this cinema is often content to create strong characters and place them in a plot necessarily tragic because real, but which rests ultimately, of the entertainment ; it is part of a cinema full of New Wave, wishing to describe the daily bringing of the spectacular by the simplicity, to get to a cinema that is tagged and dishonest, which, finally looking over to win the support of the viewer, and to make consensual to redefine themselves.
This is the best of this category that belongs to STATES OF GRACE.
I allow myself to speak of all this because this movie seems to me to be a good representative of the lack of sincerity that touches this kind of cinema.
Short Term 12, the original title is also very evocative of this film-false reality, to the limit of the docu, and though fictionalized, this semi-lie as are the movies indie american in 2014.
STATES OF GRACE Short Term 12 thus, from its very first scene, in the pure tradition of independent cinema, a moment of life.
This first scene is important because the whole film can be seen as long-a paraphrase of it : symbolically, this scene puts the film as the representative par excellence of the independent film… and then in his dialogue with the viewer, its way to provoke emotion.
Either : a group of people chatting, like that, in front of a door. It is the presentation, or rather description of the business of governing for teens with problems to a new recruit. One of the members is placed in the center of the attention, and tells a great number of specific details and elements that are spectacular, an event being happened in the course of its work, transforms a banal fait divers in history incredibly intense, funny, gripping.
The famous Grace, at one time, the interrupts to sum it up in five-six words stinging the same story as she has perceived it, how to indicate the hardness of the reality that will soon be facing the “newbie”, while pointing subtly to the importance of bending the real to be accepted.
This same reality is violently burst, in the form of a kid vociférant inintelligiblement his hatred and his fear of the world.
“Those who tell stories” begin to race the kid “in reality”…
Because it is important not to come out.
Once caught, tackled to the ground, immediately the guy who was telling his story resumes, the ends, and concludes with a : “Welcome to Short Term 12” final.
A first scene – summary of the movie, so : more great stories, remarkably interpreted, or the violence of the real, between intermittently, but fortunately, is quickly subdued by an avalanche of emotions, always concluded by a sequence-marking, a spin of the part of the hero, a sentence of shock that one remembers them…
Hmmm. For me, it makes me think of the Blockbuster of the summer.
“In the manner of a LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE in the registry of the drama, STATES OF GRACE is a feel good movie indie as successful as insincere.”
Formally, already, no surprise. The specifications of this type of production is respected, neither more nor less : camera on the shoulder, drawing the scenery, the actors without make-up, photo, natural fitness, luminous as it must be, as it is illustrating such or such a state of mind… Music, gentle acoustic, piano, banjo, guitar… Anything to say about it, it is successful without being transcendent.
The core story is, to him, a situation that is relatively common – children, family and/or social difficult, however, exacerbated by an implementation within a team caring and compassionate, beyond the normal.
As in his time it was LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, it is necessary to consider STATES OF GRACE as a feel good movie indie, although it is a drama and not a comedy.
A film whose goal is the social entertainment, at little cost : the emotion is there, therefore, easy, regular, and accessible.
The cast, Brie Larson in the lead, is very good, even excellent, authentic, multi-ethnic, familiar.
The exposure of the important characters is gradual and delicate, accurate, and detailed. This causes an inevitable empathy for them.
Thus, with a sense of timing impeccable, everyone will have the opportunity, in a moment of emotion, his quarter-hour of truth, the opportunity to complete emotionally.
The situations experienced by each are, of course, common, but shown to be dramatically exaggerated, while keeping this part of predictability that allows not to lose the viewer, even in the sweet madness that enlivens the characters, including Grace.
In the end, the moral, “Your emotions and your lived are what you defined. Even if you attempt you make to suppress, know who you are.”, could match that of any Disney representative par excellence of the model of success film hollywood…
Like LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, still, it is not to express any personality of the author.
Singularity = risk-taking = anti-commercial.
Because it is necessary to convince critical AND public, to ensure the success of esteem, that STATES OF GRACE to clearly managed to find a balance between accessibility and the alleged independence.
This method, while being remarkably efficient when it comes to printing in our consciousness a heartfelt remembrance of the film, is no less aggressive, opportunistic, and dishonest, because it causes artificially the feelings of the spectator.
Metaphorically, one could consider the character of Grace as a double of the author of the film, a character quietly manipulator, who is convinced of the strength and power of his work and furthered its world domination by creating the identification, and then taking care to support de-li-ca-te-ment of the onions on with our eyes wide open…
There are these few brief moments, which may indicate, precisely, the consciousness of the author, what is his film : in a scene in the middle of the film, in particular, Grace, seeks to identify with his protégé through his alleged personal history with the goal, of course, to win his confidence. The perversion comes from the mise en abyme of the moment, with Grace, like us, is aware of this lie, the manipulation that she has.
The authors, therefore, are they confessing that they know very well, or place their film as to its illusory character, as much towards the viewer as compared to the independent film industry ?
In the end, I loved and hated STATES OF GRACE.
Because basically, it is a moment of pure cinema, filled with emotion, beautifully interpreted… But what I found to be completely incompatible with the idea of independence in cinema, it exaggerates artificially and in a systematic way, some traits that set the scene for the final to deliver a film without originality and without surprises, which is more of a blockbuster, or the emotion would replace the visual spectacle, the cinema is independent, such that it is shaped by its various real representatives.
• Achievement : Destin Cretton
• Screenplay : Destin Cretton
• Main actors : Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr, Rami Malek, Lakeith Lee Stanfield
• Country of origin : U. S. A.
• Released : APRIL 23, 2014
• Duration : 1h36mn
• Distributor : Original Version / Condor
• Synopsis : Grace has been working in a home for teens in trouble. She and her colleagues are confronted with the challenges that the children have to find their place in a world that is sometimes harsh and cruel.