Review: The Florida Project (2017)


The Florida Project, director Sean Baker’s follow-up to the iPhone-shot Tangerine, is set a stone’s throw from Disney World, in and around budget purple-painted motel The Magic Castle. It’s here that brash six year-old Moone (a breathtaking Brooklynn Prince) lives with her young, rebellious mother Halley (Bria Vinaite). Much of the emphasis here is how Moone, Halley and those around them survive in the blistering heat with little to no money. Halley makes ends meet through prostitution and flogging fake produce to the richer families on holiday nearby, while Moone – often with her friends – indulges in adventures. Whether it’s terrorising abandoned houses or driving the motel manager (William Dafoe) round the bend, Baker and co-writer Chris Bergoch capture the wide-eyed naivety of a child, always able to make something out of nothing. This is achieved both through an ambling approach to plot (only towards the end is the ante upped to reach a poignant final shot) and a palatable shooting style. It’s vibrant and fun, yet also personal and unexpectedly moving; the minutiae of daily life on the fringes so well defined and performed that it feels like non-fiction.

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