Writers Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch (from award-winning film, Tangerine) impart another amazing story. This time they tackle the issue of the homeless residents and community in The Florida Project (in Kissimee, Fl). The film was much more than I expected. It was smart, funny, shocking and real. There is no surprise that production company A24 picked up this inspired piece of work. I've firmly resolved that the best stories come from real life, because we are invested in transformative truths and how they could possibly effect our lives.
Baker and Bergoch provide fresh perspectives of the children who live in the community and adults that have to face the harsh reality of their circumstance. This a playful, yet heartbreaking story that manifests the intricacies of people and the connection to their environment. In The Florida Project, Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her friends get into trouble over summer break. Halley, (Bria Vinaite), Moonee’s mother, attempts to find income and keep her daughter busy and out of trouble. Moonee has picked up several bad habits from her mother, who is also unruly and undisciplined. Eventually, the consequences of their actions come crashing down. The manager, Bobby, (Willem Defoe) treats the residents like they are his own family, although some relationships appear toxic. He acts as a father figure to Halley and the children in the community.
Director Sean Baker explains that many of the scenes had scripted dialogue, but that he allowed his actors some flexibility. He admits that the mother daughter duo (Bria and Brooklynn) were new actors and he additionally used local actors and businesses to support the environment that was re-created. This film is a revelatory experience about the under workings of the society surrounding Disney World. It makes one feel both connected and distant to the impression that Disney promotes; demonstrating a complex contradiction to the American dream.
The children playing in the forest and walking to get ice cream reminded me of my own childhood experiences. Baker and Bergoch go to great lengths to create a carefree environment for the children to explore and express themselves freely (references from The Little Rascals).
This film is a revelatory experience about the under workings of the society surrounding Disney World. It makes one feel both connected and distant to the impression that Disney promotes; demonstrating a complex contradiction to the American dream.
The Florida Project has Oscar-worthy performances by Willem Defoe, Brooklynn Prince, and Bria Vinaite. Overall, I feel this film will be an Oscar contender because of originality of content and realism. It was beautiful and yet tragic. I would give this film 3 and half stars out of 4. It was rather enjoyable and I couldn’t wait to see what the characters were going to do next.