MOVIE REVIEW: The Florida Project

The Landmark Theatres have some sort of electronic movie that I belong to. I was selected as a winner of an “admit-two” ticket for the Monday, October 23rd, 7:30 p.m. screening of THE FLORIDA PROJECT at Landmark’s Spectrum 8 Theatres.

Unfortunately, Monday night is the Daughter’s play rehearsal night, so it was impossible for both my wife and I to go. So I went with my friend Mary.

I had seen the trailer previously, which fortunately does not reveal too much. The film was directed by Sean Baker in a sort of a cinema verite. It was though the story, from a screenplay by Baker and Chris Bergoch, were a documentary.

It follows around Moonee (Brooklynn Kimberly Prince), a five-year-old leader of a group of kids – Valeria Cotto as Jancey, Christopher Rivera as Scooty – running relatively freely in these of extended-stay motels, probably once decent venues not far geographically, but miles away economically from Walt Disney World, which was originally dubbed The Florida Project.

Willem Dafoe is Bobby Hicks, the manager of The Magic Castle Motel – definitely not to be confused with The Magic Kingdom – just trying to do his job, collecting the rent, which is usually late, from Halley (Bria Vinaite), Moonee’s mom. But occasionally, he gets involved in his tenants’ lives, in spite of himself.

For a time, I wasn’t sure where the film was going, with its various vignettes. It only later occurred to me that the pastels of the housing units belie the difficult situation these folks find themselves in. By the end, the viewer will recognize the part of the population not often shown in film, as it “raises sobering questions about modern America.”

Dafoe, of course, is the name performer, and he is quite fine. But Brooklynn Prince is incredible in the lead. Check out the very positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (96%), though less so from the public (75%), who might be impatient that the narrative doesn’t “spell it out” more quickly.

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