Film

The Florida Project

The 469th film I have seen in theaters…

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A24 does it again

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6 year old Moonee plays with her friends in the sweltering summer heat of Kissimmee, Florida. She lives with her unemployable mother at the “Magic Castle”, a budget motel near Disney. Her mom, Halley,  tries to give Moonee a good life as she scrapes whatever cash she can hustling tourists. Bobby, the motel manager, does his best to protect Moonee as Halley’s life spirals out of control.

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Aside from something called “Robodog”, Brooklyn Prince makes her first real performance in this film. She is allowed to be a kid for most of the film, but when it really counts, she turns on the water works and ACTS. I was not a huge fan of Quvenzhané Wallis’ work in Beasts of the Southern Wild. She did okay for a kid, but I felt the Oscar nomination was undeserved. Prince’s performance here is far superior to Wallis’. It will be interesting to see what happens this spring.

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Bria Vinaite also comes out of nowhere to play Halley, the wreck of a mom. This is her first film, and she is simply amazing. This is an Oscar caliber performance. There is tremendous depth to Halley, and Vinaite manages to squeeze every ounce of drama out of the character.

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Willem Dafoe does what Willem Dafoe always does: give his absolute best. Bobby is a character of strong fiber, protecting the kids of the motel from perverts, and protecting the homeless that are using the motel to stay afloat. He has limits though, and we see him bend over backwards to try to prevent the tragedy of this film from happening. He will be in the Oscar conversation this year.

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I could not find a screenshot, but imagine my surprise when Caleb Landry Jones pops up as Bobby’s son. This guy is having a hell of a year! Get Out, American Made, Three Billboards, Twin Peaks, and now this. Watch for this guy!

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An amazingly powerful and authentic movie. The kids are kids. The issues being faced are all too real. The ending has me stumped. Dream/Imagination? Possibly. Sean Baker was impressive enough as a director to make me want to see his other work. This is excellent film-making. A24 has become the new place to find the best films being made today. 9/10

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