THE FLORIDA PROJECT is one of those "slice of life" films, shot on a low budget that doesn't really have a plot but exposes the audience to 2 hours of what it would be like to live the life of someone - usually a disaffected fringe group. There is no real plot, so the film needs to hang itself onto how interesting the characters - and the situation they find themselves - are. These types of films are not usually my cup of tea, and this film was no exception. THE FLORIDA PROJECT, conceived, written and directed by Sean Baker (who did a similar-type of film about the transgender community, TANGERINE), is about the community of people living just at the poverty line in the shadow of Walt Disney World. These people are constantly scrambling to earn money to eat and live and to pay rent at one of the seedy, rundown motels boarding just outside "the happiest place on earth". We see this world through the eyes of Moonee - a "precocious" (I would say farel) youth who lives at one of these hotels with her mother, Halley. Moonee runs wild all day, doing whatever she wants and just 'living her life" while her mother hustles to make ends meet - all under the watchful eye of the motel's Manager, Bobby. There is no real plot to this film. We just follow Moonee and her pals Scooty, Dicky and Jancey as they go about their day getting into misadventures. 6 year old Brooklyn Prince (in her film debut) stars as Moonee and she is an engaging enough presence, but not nearly strong enough to keep my attention for the entire 2 hours of the film - and that's the issue with this film. It relies heavily on the audience's fascination with this 6 year old and I wasn't fascinated enough to watch her for 2 hours. Much more interesting to me to watch was another new actress, Bria Vinaite as her mother, Halley. I said she spends the film hustling - and I mean that in every sense of the word. Every interaction with another person is laced with the thought "what can I get out of this". She is always working an angle, looking for the quick score. She was a fascinating character, and I would have preferred that she would be the focus of this story. Overseeing these two - and the other denizen's of his Motel - is Willem DaFoe playing against type as the kindly, caring Manager, Bobby. DaFoe is nominated for an Oscar for his work in this film - and it is strong work (it's good to see DaFoe with something to sink his teeth into), but is it enough for an Oscar? I don't think so. Much like Mary J. Blige in MUDBOUND, I think it is a very good performance, but I kept waiting for the "Academy Award" scene from him, and it just didn't come. Ultimately, a labor of love for Sean Baker. It looks like a film that was made on a shoestring budget - and I'm sure that was intentional. The look and feel of this film mimics the circumstance that the characters find themselves in - including some "guerilla" filmmaking at Disney's Magic Kingdom itself. He made the type of film he wanted to make. It just isn't the kind of film I wanted - or am interested - in seeing. Letter Grade: C+ 5 (out of 10) stars and you can take that to the Bank(ofMarquis)
The Florida Project
The Florida Project
Set over one summer, the film follows precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Walt Disney World.
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April 6, 2019