Sunday, April 15, 2018

Now on Amazon Prime: The Florida Project (2017)

The Florida Project (2017) - Directed by Sean Baker; Written by Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch; Starring Brooklyn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe.

By Kenny Howell

Sean Baker likes to take you to places you rarely see in cinema.

Not to some crazy monster world or anything like that, real people, sometimes living on the fringes, just trying to get by or exist.

That is true of The Florida Project, his follow up to the iPhone filmed Tangerine from a few years back. It takes place almost entirely in a hotel called The Magic Castle, primarily populated by people who have nowhere else to go. The name comes from its proximity to Disney World, which confuses at least one potential guest. It is run by Bobby (Willem Dafoe), a very patient man who tries to accommodate these people who just need a roof over their head. Within reason at least. He has a breaking point, but you really have to push him to get there.

Halley (Bria Vinaite) is one of those that can push him. She is a single mom to Moonee (Brooklyn Prince), a wild little girl who has known no boundaries growing up. She plays with her friends all day, goes to beg strangers for ice cream money and generally just lives anarchic life. Which is what her mom does as well. She doesn't really care about any consequences, does anything to get money to keep her room for her and her daughter. She loves her daughter, she just isn't equipped at all to care for her, and unfortunately that affects Moonee.

The Florida Project tests your patience because of Halley. Her rebelliousness isn't infectious, it is hard to watch at times, and her abrasiveness definitely pushes you away. However, it does make it all the more heart breaking for Moonee, who suffers the consequences of Halley's actions through no fault of her own. She is just a kid that wants to have fun, and her mom is standing in the way of that at times.

Baker goes for ultra realism, never really going overboard, which is exactly where it needs to be. His choice to go with unknown Vinaite as Halley, a woman he found on Instagram, was the exact right move. A known actress would have been reaching for Oscar reel moments, and Vinaite just is Halley. What she lacks in traditional acting ability (this is her first role), she definitely makes up for authenticity. It doesn’t feel like she’s acting, but of course she’s doing a fantasic job. It lends itself to the rest of the film, which is that poverty stricken Florida we don't often see. It's an unique experience, which covers any faults it might have.

The Florida Project is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Rating: ***

No comments:

Post a Comment