The Florida Project: A Film Review

By Saoirse Boyle

Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is an authentic and vivacious indie film which encapsulates childhood through the lens of a six-year-old living with her young single mother in Orlando, Florida. A calamitous portrait of American life as we know it, like many other A24 films, The Florida project focuses on the hardships of a lower class household making their way through life.  The soundtrack and cinematography both amplify the purity of young life.

Moonee, the six-year-old protagonist, go on wild adventures with her friends and causes mischief while her somewhat dysfunctional mother, Halley, attempts to make ends meet during the day. The mother-daughter relationship in this poignant film is beautiful and essentially mirrors the experiences of many non-fictional parental-child love no matter your economic or social class – this is something Baker does very well. Set in a motel in the shadows of Disney World Florida; The Magic Castle motel is run by Bobby (played by 3 time Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe, one for this particular film) a caring and diligent man who is a huge part of Moonee’s upbringing.

The plot takes place over the course of one summer and is brought to the audience like the works of Richard Linklater, the director and creator of Boyhood, in a real snapshot of lifestyle. This provides authenticity to the pioneering adventures of Moonee and her friends. As many other young children are with absent parents, Moonee can be very rude and disrespectful to strangers which mirrors her mother’s crassness and lack of authority. Much of the film provides a focus on Moonee and her friends having fun, escaping the sweltering mid-summer Florida sun, reverting the lens of the adult issue until they become too serious.

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I would initially describe this film as a drama, however, like most good films, nuances of comedy shine through which ultimately gives the film great value and layers of hope. At times I found the film to be slow: with nearly 2 hours of running time, absent characters, and inadequacies in direction. Despite the absence of a tangible plot, The Florida Project continuously presents the imagination and creativity of a child’s mind with the problems faced before her.

I recommend this film to any indie lovers out there, especially since The Florida Project first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017. And if you aren’t an indie movie connoisseur don’t be afraid to give this one a crack, it is visually stunning and beautifully acted by many of the breakout stars.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ out of 5 stars