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Florida Project

Steven - AV May 11, 2018

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Six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives just outside Walt Disney World in Kissimmee, Florida, at the fringes of commodified happiness. The town’s proximity to the park hasn’t done much more than morph it into a faintly dystopian tourist trap, with empty off-brand shops topped by giant wizards and oranges and ice cream cones in hopes of attracting frugal Mickey-eared visitors through gaudy visual flair. The motel where she lives in poverty with her mother (Bria Vinaite) is one such place; slathered in bright purple paint and dubbed the Magic Castle, it is nevertheless home to many other essentially homeless families. Director Sean Baker mixes the desolation with Moonee’s childish POV, presenting both the great irony of the whole place and the way its faded colors might still appeal to an idealistic child, who views a row of abandoned condos less as a marker of urban decay than a place to play with her friends. We see how her residence in Kissimmee teeters into neglect, but we see the real joy of childhood most of all, how it may blossom regardless of situation. As she explores and gets into trouble and charms everyone around her, the movie is equal parts sad and infectiously happy. There are no easy villains and no real heroes, even, outside perhaps the motel manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe), who never truly masks his warmth behind stern looks and barked reproaches the way he means to. Where another film might have wallowed in tragedy, The Florida Project is concerned more with life as it is, in presenting its difficulties and small victories with an honest, uncynical eye. Overall Rating: A+

 

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