Wow. I'm so glad that I re-watched this film last night. The first time I watched it I really liked it, but I needed time away from it because in a way, it hit too close to home for me. Now, don't get me wrong, my job does not involve being with kids who have been displaced from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or bad behavior, but I do spend every week with kids who totally have fucked up family lives and experience cutting, depression, abuse, etc. Also I'm not a social worker, but I refer kids and families to them on a regular basis and while I whole heartedly believe in therapy, I also believe you have to find the right therapist and b/c they are human and b/c people are broken, and because they system is broken it doesn't work...or takes a long time to work. (Thinking of the scene where the social worker can't remove Jayden from her home (because of legit protocol) and maybe even doubts Grace's abilities.
What this film completely nails is the interaction between youth and adult (another huge reason this movie hits home). The awkwardness, the tender moments, the jokes, the being more sassy/open/cussing with kids who you know better. The opening scene where Mason is explaining to Nate about the time he shit his pants... YES. Putting yourself in a vulnerable place that is hilarious to others (shitting your pants/farting/etc) is a great way to get a kid to bring their guard down. Complimenting kids and being interested in what they are doing (regardless of if you are actually into it) is another way.
The film also completely nails how incredible youth are - creative, talented, clever, resilient, and thoughtful. The penises on Jayden's door. Marcus' rap...I mean - SERIOUSLY, the rap! And Mason's reaction is SPOT ON - what do you say when a kid opens their heart like that and shows you how incredibly broken his life has been??? Jayden's response to Grace almost beating her father with a bat, "A little extreme, don't you think?" and then after Grace explains some of her situation to Jayden, she says, "you're gonna be a great mom." Society often labels youth as lazy, selfish, and unproductive (and they can certainly be and are those things, they are still developing...and honestly many adults never move beyond this); we overlook and certainly rarely expect greatness from anyone in high school. But, obviously, I firmly believe that if we listen, and especially if we give them the space, youth say and do amazing things all the time.
What is profound about this film is that is speaks both to the brokenness of all humanity and resiliency we possess. Specifically, the resiliency that youth possess and what they can give back to heal others. Grace - even her name is perfect - experienced unthinkable abuse as a teenager and lives her life caring for hurting youth; and Jayden, some who is a current teen, who is currently experiencing trauma, helps start the healing process for Grace. It's beautiful. I had tears in my eyes the entire film.
I love it all. Are you annoyed with me, yet? A++