The Florida Project (2017)

florida project poster 2017 movie review
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Willem Dafoe vs pedophile scene, strong cast

Almost too real in a depressing sense

Movie Info

Movie Name:   The Florida Project

Studio:   June Pictures

Genre(s):   Drama

Release Date(s):  May 22, 2017 (Cannes Film Festival)/October 6, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating:   R

florida project burning building brooklynn prince

Mom…you take me to the best places!!!

Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives in a home near Disney World in Orlando.  Her mother (Bria Vinaite) doesn’t have a steady job and they live day to day by selling perfume and other means.  While her hotel manager Bobby Hicks (Willem Dafoe) tries to keep the children out of trouble while keeping the rundown hotel running, Moonee and her friends who also live in the hotel spend their time torturing guests, sneaking food, and causing trouble…all in the shadows of the “Happiest Place on Earth”.

Written and directed by Sean Baker (with additional scripting by Chris Bergoch), The Florida Project is an experimental drama film that derives its title from the original production name for Walt Disney World.  The movie received critical acclaim and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Dafoe).

In a 2004 episode of This American Life, a woman told a story about growing up at the hotel across from Disneyland in California called “Across the Street from Heaven”.  It was an interesting and thought-provoking story about what a life like that would be like.  The Florida Project seems to borrow from this and turned it into a drama that is almost too real.

florida project 2017 pedophile scene willem dafoe

How’s that drink?

The Florida Project feels like a glimpse of a real world that everyone tries to ignore.  Moonee and her mother are very real.  Moonee has no chance as a result (but it also doesn’t mean her mother loves her any less).  Moonee is destine to repeat the past as the movie continues…she will be her mother if nothing changes.  Everyone knows this (including Dafoe’s character), but there is nothing that can be done.

The cast is largely made up of unknown actors.  The child actors in the film were generally untested on screen but bring a real child aspect to their performances; they just seem like kids goofy off.  Brooklynn Prince is the lead child and really comes off as a brat…a real brat that seems natural.  She is joined by Bria Vinaite who doesn’t put up the necessary boundaries for a child (but also seems to be teaching her child survival in her world).  Dafoe is the only real known actor in the movie but eats up his scenes as essentially the “Schneider” of the hotel…his scene with the pedophile makes the movie worth watching alone.

florida project disney world ending

Catch your dream!

The film was also shot unconventionally.  Most of the movie was rather traditional (but still shot with a realism that doesn’t quite mix with other films).  The movie at the end goes into an almost fantasy fugue state with the characters finally escaping into Disney World…which the director shot guerilla-style with no permission (which seems even more appropriate for a character).

The Florida Project is a great movie that is steeped in realism.  It is the type of movie that could continue after the ending and be a worthy sequel.  That is also the problem with a story like this.  The characters in The Florida Project will continue.  Moonee will live on (without her mother), her mother will live on (without Moonee), but they will continue to live and struggle…life isn’t as simple as movies, and The Florida Project isn’t a simple movie.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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