The Florida Project
Directed by Sean Baker. US. 2017. R. 1 hour 55 minutes. A24. Digital.
Fri., November 17, 2017 thru Thu., November 30, 2017
Six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her rebellious mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) live week to week at “The Magic Castle,” a budget motel managed by Bobby (Willem Dafoe), whose stern exterior hides a deep reservoir of kindness and compassion. Despite her harsh surroundings, the precocious and ebullient Moonee has no trouble making each day a celebration of life, her endless afternoons overflowing with mischief and grand adventure as she and her ragtag playmates—including Jancey, a new arrival to the area who quickly becomes Moonee’s best friend—fearlessly explore the utterly unique world into which they’ve been thrown. Unbeknownst to Moonee, however, her delicate fantasy is supported by the toil and sacrifice of Halley, who is forced to explore increasingly dangerous possibilities in order to provide for her daughter.
“Studded with kitschy capitalist detritus (fast-food domes shaped like giant oranges or mermaids) and graced with flashes of detailed yet ephemeral beauty (a fireworks display at night, a pair of children approaching a bovine herd amid tall grass), Baker’s film overflows with euphoria and sadness.” – Fernando Croce, MUBI Notebook
“There is nothing lyrical or romanced about this portrait of poverty, though it is very beautiful to look at. This isn’t the dreamy magic realism of “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” nor the gritty social realism of Ken Loach. Instead, it’s an intensely felt palimpsest of joy and despair and a stealthy way to drive home Baker’s furiously humane point. Though Bobby keeps it clean, runs it fairly, and tries to protect its inhabitants, it’s not much to look at, yet The Magic Castle costs Halley $1000 a month. This alone is a startling reminder of how very expensive it is to be poor, in a world where wealth is not about how much you have, but how much people think you’re worth. Challenging the invisibility of a whole segment of the American underclass, “The Florida Project” shines a bright shaft of happy, hot summer sun on The Magic Castle and finds there no magic, but hidden treasure.” – Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
Access reviews at Metacritic.com.