The Florida Project

Director Sean Baker (Tangerine) takes inspiration from D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance but with its details brought out into the blinding sun of Kissimmee, Florida where a simple single-mom-and-daughter story becomes a foible of neo-realism! Willem Dafoe plays Bobby, the world-weary manager of a garishly purple painted motor lodge, The Magic Kingdom, on the outskirts of that stretch of road filled with nail salons, retail outlets stocked with discount dime-store merchandise and endless breakfast eateries along impassable arteries leading to Disney World! It’s the place where transient tourists become targets for long-term lower-rung locals like those renting $38 a night rooms! Bobby is also the only responsible adult for miles whose life doesn’t seem to be rotting away! In contrast, the kids are all right, finding adventure spitting on cars, throwing breaker switches and committing vandalism. Neither social scrutiny nor haphazard slapstick, this movie is a day-to-day journey of six-year-old Moonie (Brooklynn Prince) whose single mom Halley (Bria Vinaite), after having lost her stripper job, is almost always late with the rent, in constant conflict with the neighbors and still pretty much a rebellious pubescent herself! Defying the odds together, they exist off selling cheap perfume in parking lots and scamming tourists. It’s the kind of film you have to remind yourself isn’t a documentary – these are actors near “the happiest place on Earth”!