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The Florida Project

Moonee (Brooklyn Prince, who I will be watching for in future films) is a precocious girl who lives with her mom Haley (Bria Vinaite, who also appears to be a newcomer) in a Florida near the entrance to the Magic Kingdom in a hotel where clients pay by the week. The hotel is managed by Bobby (Willem DaFoe). Moonee spends the days with a couple of friends who manage to find ways to irritate Bobby and to just fill in the hours of the day with play and trouble.   This is a wonderful movie. While it does not really have much of a plot or a lot of action, it serves as a fascinating cultural study of a world of the vagrant poor that stands in stark contrast to the “Disney world”. The story works so well because of the script, which shows the stark contrasts in the way mother and daughter see the world, and the actors and actresses who bring that script to life. Prince is amazing; it is hard not to watch the movie that is seen primarily through her eyes and feel her joy and carefreeness her personality exuberates. Mom lives in a different world where the next meal and place to live is a day-to-day struggle. DaFoe is also wonderful; he plays a very different character to those typically associated with him. It is visually great to look at with its colors, humor, and it’s appropriately wonderful ending. Big thumbs up from me; Moonee is probably the most precocious little girl you will meet on screen, but I cannot imagine anyone leaving the theater and not wanting at least a little bit to see the world like she does again. I watched Tangerine, Sean Baker’s previous film about 2 transgender street workers in LA, just before seeing this, and The Florida Project establishes him as a first-rate teller of stories of people who live on the margins of society.

About Gary Burkholder

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