The Florida Project is a truly harrowing, eye-opening, and powerful film. It surrounds a young girl named Moonee (played by Brooklyn Prince) who lives in a motel with her mother (Bria Vinai) a couple of miles outside Disney World. Moonee spends her days getting into trouble with her friends, helping her mom sell perfume, and wanders around town enjoying life. Unbeknownst to Moonee though, her mom is having a hard time providing for both the them and must resort to doing things that could get the authorities onto her.
Brooklyn Prince really shines in this role. At the beginning, Moonee comes off as a brat and troublemaker but as the film progresses you can see why she is that way. She also maintains her childlike innocence, which probably hard for her to due given the circumstances in the film. Child actors don’t always work in film, but here all the children in the film work well together.
Bria Vinai, who plays Halley, Moone’s mother, also is a showstopper. You root for her to get her act together and be more responsible. Though at times she can be more childish than her daughter, it is clearly seen that she really loves her daughter. Her relationship with Bobby (Willem Dafoe), the motel manager, is really nice. Not to mention the fact that Dafoe gives one of his best performances to date for the film.
Sean Baker must be given all the credit, I still have yet to watch his first feature, Tangerine, but The Florida Project is a film I won’t ever forget because it broke my heart. I really think it deserved more Oscar nominations than Dafoe’s Supporting Actor. The colors and cinematography were also stunning all throughout the film.
As for negatives, the ending of the film is different, and as I initially saw it I didn’t like it. But the more that I have thought about the film, the ending does grow on me. The movie is also very explicit, and I think that could have been toned back some.
Overall, The Florida Project is a film that feels so real and make you think more about what happens around “The happiest place on Earth.” I give it an A+