Set over one summer, the film follows precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World.
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Halley lives with her six year old daughter Moonee in a budget motel along one of the commercial strips catering to the Disney World tourist clientele outside Orlando, Florida. Halley, who survives largely on welfare, has little respect for people, especially those who cross her, it an attitude that she has passed down to Moonee, who curses and gives the finger like her mother. Although the motel's policy is not to allow long term rentals, Bobby, the motel manager, has made arrangements for people like Halley to live there while not undermining the policy as he realizes that many such tenants have no place to go otherwise. Halley, Moonee and Moonee's friends, who live in the motel or others like it along the strip and who she often drags into her disruptive pranks, are often the bane of Bobby's existence, but while dealing with whatever problem arises, Bobby has a soft spot especially for the children and thus, by association, their parents, as he knows that Moonee and others like her... Written by
In a 2017 BBC radio interview, the director clarified that the film's garish motel settings are genuine motels. They continued operating as working businesses during filming, and some real-life residents and staff are seen in the film. See more »
[to tourist at ice-cream stand]
Excuse me. Could you give us some change, please? The doctor said we have asthma and we have to eat ice-cream right away.
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DaFoe is utterly brilliant but the film leaves much to be desired.
The Florida Project is the third feature film from writer-director Sean Baker and, while being an improvement over Tangerine and Starlet, The Florida Project is still missing the heart it needs to be an everlasting and impactful film. From his cinematic conception, Baker has had a knack for showing very dingy lifestyles bursting with a color palate that would make George Miller weep. But underneath the colorful array that he includes is a superficial mess of a film. One that thinks it is smarter and more heartfelt than it really is.
Telling the story of a young girl living in a by-the-hour motel ran by a seedy motel manager (Willem DaFoe) with a heart of gold and having a drug abusing, prostitute mother doesn't exactly translate to feel good. The young girl decides to let her imagination take wind and shield her from the harsh realities of life. While this sounds like it should hit hard, it doesn't. Not even a little bit. The problem that Sean Baker has in all of his films is his characters. All of them are begging for sympathy when sympathy is the last thing they deserve. While I think the young girl, Moonee, deserves our sympathies, no one else does. Every one in this film has gotten themselves here by their own doing and Baker tries desperately to make us feel for them. It may work on some audiences but it was wasted on me.
Overall, this feels like a cheap grindhouse drama that really doesn't do any favors to the actors. The cinematography in the film is top notch and definitely shows that Baker has a visual eye but, as with his previous 2 films, the story is severely lacking. While I definitely think Baker has talent, it doesn't lie within his original stories. For those of you who enjoyed Baker's Tangerine or Starlet, give this a shot. Anyone else, you might want to skip it.
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