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8/10
More Baker brilliance
ferguson-618 October 2017
Greetings again from the darkness. "The Happiest Place on Earth" has long been a Disney catchphrase. The irony for those living on the road to Disney World is the focus of the latest from ground-breaking filmmaker Sean Baker. Mr. Baker was the creative force behind the remarkable TANGERINE (shot entirely with iphones) a couple of years ago, and his most recent film solidifies his brilliance at bringing us the fringes of society – those we don't typically see on screen. Beyond that, these are the folks many of us pay little attention to in real life.

The Magic Castle Motel is a lavender monstrosity that belies the daily struggles of those who live behind its purple doors. It's actually a seedy extended-stay that caters to ultra-budget guests. Included among those are 6 year old Moonee (Brooklyn Kimberly Prince) and her friend Scooty (Christopher Rivera). As we watch them spit on a car below their perch on the motel balcony, we quickly judge these as kids with a bit too much free time and a shortage of parental guidance.

As the summer days roll on, we tag along as Moonee leads Scooty and their new friend Jancey (Valeria Cotto) in some boundary-pushing adventures. Their fun ranges from typical kid mischief to accidents with more serious ramifications. The brilliance here is that through the child's eye, we see joy and excitement and fun. We hear the purity of giggles and giddy screeches as the kids bound between tourist traps, ice cream parlors, and rooms forbidden as off-limits. All of this miscreant activity occurs amidst the adults who trudge on simply trying to survive another day.

While we might be tempted to recall Cat Stevens' lyrics, "while the sinners sin, the children play", it's director Baker that refuses to pass judgment. Moonee's mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) was recently fired from her "dancing" job, and is now constantly on the prowl to make enough money to cover the weekly motel bill. She clearly loves her daughter, but is too proud and angry, and just has no idea of how to pull out of this vicious cycle of poverty. The artificial dreams that are prevalent in so many films have no place at the Magic Castle Motel. It's about the next meal and keeping a roof above.

Don't go searching for plot here. Instead, at times it feels like a documentary on Moonee or the spirited need for fun and laughter that is in the DNA of kids. We are just following a real kid around, and that's a tribute to the marvel that is Brooklyn Kimberly Prince. She steals every scene and most of the movie … and that's in spite of the terrific performances from Ms. Vinaite and screen vet Willem Dafoe. It's a rare "normal" role for Mr. Dafoe, and he makes the most of it as Bobby, the motel's manager. He is also a father figure, mediator of disputes, bill collector, and protector of damaged souls. With no hint of saccharine or Hollywood mush, Bobby is unable to detach emotionally from those who live at the hotel, not because he is soft, but rather because he is human. We see his demeanor change drastically when the owner of the hotel arrives for inspection. Bobby understands the fragility of his own situation due to what he witnesses each day.

Director Baker is a master of color use and the blending of abrupt framed images with the handhelds in close proximity within motel rooms and personal interactions. His story (co-written with his TANGERINE and STARLET collaborator Chris Bergoch) never feels condescending, preachy or romanticized. There is no blatant political statement being made. These are folks living their lives as best they are able within the confines of their situation. The police and Child Protective Services are always hovering as a reminder that the next mistake could significantly alter lives. Somehow, the film is both hilarious and heart-breaking. The obvious comparison is to last year's MOONLIGHT, and it could even be viewed as a prequel to American HONEY. Mostly it's a slice of rarely seen life and further proof that Sean Baker is already an important filmmaker, and one that likely has more to say. As for the debate around the final scene, does it really matter? There is no better place for a child to escape reality … even if it might only be in their mind. Sometimes that's the only escape we get.
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8/10
The Florida Project (2017)
rockman1827 October 2017
Boy, did I hear some great things about this from film festivals and from critics I follow on social media. Trailer didn't blow me away but I knew there had to be something special about this film. I haven't seen Sean Baker's previous effort, Tangerine, so I didn't really have a barometer for what to expect. I can safely say the film works so well. It's incredibly well acted, and utilizes a charming and emotional script to convey an experience you won't soon forget.

The film follows a young girl named Moonee (played by a really good young Brooklynn Kimberly Prince) and her mom who live in an extended stay motel managed by Bobby (Willem Dafoe). Halley, Moone's mother, has trouble making ends meet and does whatever she can to raise her daughter but her brash personality and lifestyle makes life difficult during their stay at the motel. Bobby tries his best to watch over them but realizes how tough it is keeping them as guests.

Its hard to say much more without giving away key plot points. I have to say this film is a joyous good time. The kid performers are mostly yelling loudly and running around on adventures. you know, being typical hyper kids. Its done so well though. I think Baker may have legitimately had the child actors improvise their lines because everything felt extremely natural. Newcomer Bria Vinaite, wow. She is livewire. Love or hate her character, she is loudly unapologetic and rebellious and just wonderfully portrayed. Defoe is also typically great. Bobby is such an identifiable character.

Baker uses his lenses to study a part of under-represented America. We don't get a lot of films about struggling families who find it hard to get by, definitely not the typical "Hollywood" character story. The film is definitely going to hit a lot of viewers hard at the end. Its a rather beautiful ending that reflects the innocence of the mischievous but ultimately innocent children. This could really be an Oscar contender.

8/10
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9/10
The Practice of Accepting a Situation as it is
mmendez-2208920 September 2017
I had the privilege to catch an early viewing of this film along with a Q&A with writer/director/editor Sean Baker. Many know him from his breakout hit Tangerine (2015); I was sucked into his world since the release of Starlet (2012). Something that he never ceases to portray is the messed up realism that is hidden within our world and the Florida Project capture this in the most purest and colorful of ways.

The story follows a ruthlessly mischievous 6-year old named Moonee who, along with a couple friends, explore, disrupt, criticize and takeover a simple hotel complex just on the outskirts of Disney World. She lives with her young, tattooed mother, who seems to have issues of her own, but seems content and manages to pay rent (almost) every week.

Taking place over the summer, these kids are free to do as they please, that is, since there parents are not too strict. And being around tourists who can't afford the Disney Resort, they can make a lot of fun out of it. From panhandling money for ice cream to turning off the electricity in the hotel, these badmouthed hoodlums do it all. One thing this film captures well is the freedom children have and how far they go to test the waters of life.

It was very easy to get lost in this film, making it completely enjoyable. I was worried about the kids being a bit over exaggerating, but they really weren't and every thing they did seemed natural and true to their character. I especially want to point out Halley, Moonee's mother, and her performance. I have never seen a character like her played so superbly and so factual. You will see as the story unfolds that she is a very complex person who, like a child, struggles to maintain complacency with the people around her.

Another element I would like to touch up on is the camera work. By far one of the best storytelling methods for a film such as this that is mostly from a child's point of view. The colours being so vibrant and wide angles that show how big the world really is. The gorilla-style as well really depicts how on-the-go they are and trivial most disruptions are.

One last thing I want to touch up on is that there is a number of great shots with a helicopter zooming away. I am unsure if it was intentional or if there was a popular helipad near by, but this was a great part of the film that was subtly used. To me it represented freedom, and escape from the world, referring to how fast it can get away.

It is not everyday you come across a film like The Florida Project and I definitely intend on seeing it again, as it is simply rewatchable. Getting a taste of authentic realism in art nowadays is one of the most beautiful gifts we can receive. Enjoy!
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8/10
Under The Shadow Of Disney
statuskuo20 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
It's only fitting that in the shadow of the corporate mouse...a society of people who live on the fringe would exist. In Florida (specifically Orlando) the desperate existence thrives on people who go off the beaten path...and actually get lost. That is where Halley (newcomer Bria Vinaite) and her daughter Moonee (played by another newcomer Brooklynn Prince) exist. Halley...seems to be a club kid who got knocked up by a man who shortly abandoned her. In some tribal/white trash code of religion, it seems she thought having a child would make her grow up. Not quite. Because the princesses' castle is within reach, it's still a world away. And that is heartbreaking. Imagine being a person unable to grow up (like what Disney promotes). Those dreams withered and died, but the worst residual effects remained. Which is the Magic Castle. A hovel of a (what one unsuspecting tourist calls a "gypsy project") dump managed by Bobby, played wonderfully sympathetic character Willem Dafoe. Bobby patiently overlooks the ship of fools and sometimes, babysits, though by default. Most who live there have feral children who explore the grounds and beyond out of boredom. The residents here are...they are who you think should live there. Look, this film is about character. There is zero plot, so don't go looking for a story. The reality of the people who live here are brutal. Like...on edge scary where you're not entirely sure you want anyone to exist here. But they do. Moonee is a lovely little girl caught up in an adult world she doesn't fully comprehend, but is forced to deal with. Halley is obviously a broken toy herself. And in a very quiet effective scene, we see glimpses of Halley coming to terms with what the world requires of her as parent ("pepperoni costs money").

This is art at it's highest degree. A well paced, sometimes hilarious glimpses of life at the fray. I really hope Willem DaFoe gets nominated for an Oscar. There is a moment in the film where he becomes the knight in shining armor, unbeknownst to the complaining tenants of the complex. Essentially protecting their children from the monsters that are within grasp. And no one thanks him for it. His character Bobby just wants to make it to the end of the day like everyone else. But he is also...us watching and wanting to hug these people hard.
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9/10
nope
treywillwest23 October 2017
Beautifully humane film that at times recalls Italian Neo-Realism, at other times the child-based films that are so popular in Iran. That it was made in the USA, with a real if humble budget, seems surprising and is a testament to the commitment of the filmmakers.

Subtly going back and forth between the perspectives of the child and adult characters, the film has, at times, an almost magical realist vibe, though nothing remotely supernatural or surreal transpires. Indeed, this is a film steeped in harsh reality, but also one that captures the almost mystical sense of discovering life on the part of the children and sometimes, momentarily at least, even the adults.

On the other hand, the film also offers a very visceral sense of the stress of trying to survive amidst the scarcity of the margins of American capitalism.

The acting is incredible, all the more so given that, with the very notable exception of Willem Dafoe, the performers are all either non- actors or unknowns.
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9/10
A brilliant character study, that blends a powerful story with great humor
latinfineart20 October 2017
I really liked this film, as unorthodox as it was. The first hour was uproariously funny, before becoming a deep, and poignant study of the millions of lives of Americans who are living on the fringes of society, just barely surviving day to day. There is a shocking lack of cinema devoted to this underclass, and seeing this small film, was refreshing, enlightening, and surprising, and a refreshing contrast to the plutocracy we see all around us today.

The performances were outstanding. I am not sure where Bria Vinaite has been hiding, but she was astonishing as the mom, Hailey. Her daughter and all of the other kids were great, and their interactions, behavior, dialogue and play was hysterical. Then it kind of morphed into a more serious story, that was credible, and powerful. Willem Dafoe was his usual masterful self, and played a very real, very likable guy. A tough guy with a heart of gold.

I highly recommend this film. Not for everyone. Several people walked out during the film. My presumption was that they either thought the film focused too much time on the kids, or they were living in a state of denial, like so many Americans these days, pretending that this huge underclass does not exist. Regardless, it felt like a story that needed to be told. And it was told very well. Kudos to the filmmakers.
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10/10
The dream comes true in many different ways
charlesartbr12 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is awesome and I will explain why I thought that.

In 2013, I, my wife and my stepdaughter went to Orlando in vacation, was a "dream comes true" trip, we all are born in a poor family in Brazil, and can do that was really a dream come true. Everything in USA was amazing and we come back Brazil thinking "there is no poverty in USA, everything works, the things are cheap!".

The poor people in Brazil live in not well done houses, in favela, near polluted rivers or very crowded neighborhoods. This movie show us where the poor people live in Orlando, conventily in cheap hotels (conventily to the ones that earn money from tourism). Just to you know the difference between the countries, in Brazil is impossible a poor family live in a cheap hotel, no way, this is very expensive.

Many user reviews here, especially the lower ratings, takes the point of view of the mother, saying that "she not a good mother", "why she dont work?" and many other things. They say the movie protect this kind of people and becouse of this they are very disappointed.

I say that all these people don't understand the movie, let´s take only the point of view of Moonee, she have a super mom for her. She can play all day with her friends, walk way in many places, eat icecream for free, and do stupid things, and if anyone go to your mother to complain about her, her super mom will make they go away. Moonee really love this.

You can say that this is wrong, I don't agree to that kind of comportament, but the movie is showing to us one point of view, you don´t need to agree with it, but you need to see it.

Just think about Moonee life, she love it, everything is good, everything is a party. There are so many middle class families, with kids that just hate their lives, they have school, toys, video games, computers, cellphones, but just don´t have good times with their parents.
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8/10
The Seedy Underbelly of a Tourist Trap Town
kz917-119 March 2018
Uncomfortable - yes.

Language that children should not be using - yes.

Situations that no child should be in - yes.

A peek behind the curtain at the circumstances of those on the lower rungs of society, monetarily and otherwise.

Be thankful for what you have for there are those with literally nothing.
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6/10
Well-Acted but Somewhat Empty Indie Drama
bastille-852-7315471 October 2017
I had been looking forward to seeing this new film directed by Sean Baker ever since reading the rave reviews for it that came out of Cannes and Toronto. While I can say that this film is beautifully filmed and features strong acting, it doesn't quite hit the mark. The film is about a poor young girl, raised by a single mother, and her friends who live in a run-down motel close to Disney World near Orlando, Florida.

Baker uses a simple and low-key filmmaking style to deliver excellent cinematography. The film has a strong and commanding color palette to its simple aesthetic. The performances on display in this movie are very satisfying for the most part. The child actors do a very good and convincing job, especially given their ages. Williem Dafoe is very good as the manager of the motel, although it would have been better if he had been given more of an emotional range to work with in his role throughout the movie. Unfortunately, the film does have some notable flaws. The tone of the movie is all over the place, with joyous childhood wonder juxtaposed sometimes abruptly with more edgy and mature themes. Such abrupt changes in tone and motif hold back the movie's message to some degree. Some audiences will dislike that the movie is considerably darker than its trailers make it seem, although I was fine with that. The same concern over abrupt changes in tone is also evident in the movie's writing, mixing puerile scatological 'jokes' from the kids with more sophisticated and powerful material. Finally, the film's final scene feels like a cop-out. Without giving anything away, the way it is done also makes one (unfortunately) wonder if it was filmed on impulse, or if the filmmakers ran out of budget.

I really wanted to love "The Florida Project," and it's certainly not a bad film, but I just wish it could have been better. 6.5/10
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5/10
DaFoe is utterly brilliant but the film leaves much to be desired.
trublu21514 September 2017
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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4/10
Hugely irritating and empty
darren-153-89081011 November 2017
Let me start with a positive. I absolutely loved Tangerine, it had soul, it had heart, and above all it had emotion. By the end of the film you seriously cared for the characters.

However, this film had the completely opposite effect on me. From the first minute until the last, this was an uncomfortable watch. Not because of the subject matter, but because of the cringe factor. The kids were annoying little brats, the mum was an arsehole who got worse, the friend was an arsehole. The only adult who wasn't one was William Dafoe.

Using the kids ad libbed acting as a juxtaposition against the more seedy element of the film just felt like a cheap trick.

I thought this was going to be one of best films of the year, its actually one of the worst.
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i can't say it..
Arth_Joshi29 January 2018
The Florida Project

I suppose it is difficult for anyone to talk about this movie and not use the word, "beautiful" in it for you cannot not fall in love with all the clips of these little kids playing all on their own whispering innocence on the screen. The Florida Project is a kind of movie that has an amazing premise and beautiful script along with it which comes off as a magic on screen but it also is kind of a movie that if not taken care of while executing it, it may come off dull and boring. And Sean Baker is ready to take all the responsibility for it and he carries it all around on his shoulder shooting and editing some of the most precious moments on the screen (it may remind you of those little clips that were shown in American Beauty; remember the guy that used to shoot any clips who lived across Kevin Spacey). The lead child actress is amazing in it and supporting her all through the course of the movie is Willem Dafoe who easily resembles to any man in charge of the responsibilities; he is simply brilliant in it. The Florida Project carries off these little sequences building it upto something more than one can imagine and flaunts it all over the screen like a magician.
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2/10
Disappointed
brian_fj120024 October 2017
I have read several of the high star rated reviews and still cannot understand why this film is so highly rated.Both my daughter and I went to see this film as a " Screen Unseen " (This is where you go to see a film at a reduced cost but don't know what film is being shown)Because of the reduced cost these showings attract a large amount of people.When the film started the cinema was around three quarters full after the first 10 mins people started to leave (this is not unusual)by the end of the film there was only around a third of the original number remaining (including my daughter and myself this is unusual)The ending was so strange it was as if someone had just cut off the film with no explanation and a big WHAT! came from the remaining audience, A total waste of 2 hours of my life see it at your peril.
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2/10
Save yourselves!
cribbageanyone2927 November 2017
I'm only doing this in the hope I can save someone else from making the same mistake I made: Trusting the reviews and going to see this movie.

It's sort of like signing up to Yelp to warn others about the rotten tomatoes you were served at a bad restaurant. I fail to see the basis for numerous glowing reviews either for cinematography, story line, or performances. There are no characters whom one can develop any sentiment for, neither the youthfully immoral little girl, the struggling and scamming but infantile trash mouthed mother, nor the paternalistic hotel manager, or other tangential cast members. OK, back to the professional reviews, the review rating in at one out of ten, mentioned a high volume of walk outs, once the audience figured out what kind of movie this was going to be. I considered doing the same, but I was in a good mood and had just shelled out the big bucks to watch this movie. There was supposed to be an ending that packed a punch to the audience's expectations. But there really wasn't, the ending seemed like it was recorded surreptitiously, meanwhile the sadness and depravity of all these characters begins to sink in, and you ask yourself, Why did I want to go see this movie? Just don't!!!!
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1/10
Saturated Colors and Screeching Children Cursing Obscenities Do Not Mix and Left Me Disappointed
ecto-317 October 2017
Seldom have I walked out of a preview screening. But after enduring one hour of screeching, unsupervised children, dripping obscenities as casually as they dripped ill-gotten ice cream, unsupervised by adults who were as misbehaved and irresponsible as they were, I mercifully exited the theater.

This film neither amused me, nor held my attention. I kept thinking of the times I was on a flight in which the cabin had a child or two who were constantly crying, or kicking the back of my seat, only this viewing experience was worse, because I was expecting better.

In the row to my right was a morbidly obese gentleman with a backpack on the seat next to him filled with chips and other snacks that he dipped into regularly, taking time between bites to laugh uncontrollable at the obscenity laden dialogue, as other members of the audience got up to leave in twos and threes.

This was worse than going to a restaurant and selecting something from the menu that I was sure would give me indigestion.

I go to films, not primarily to be entertained, but for the impact of drama that consists of conflicts and their eventual resolutions, that also reflect and reveal truths about myself, and the world in which I live.

Maybe I left too soon to experience any resolution of conflict, but this so-called "drama" meandered aimlessly for a full 60 minutes, while I wished that I could look out the window at the passing clouds on that imaginary flight at 35,000 feet, and order a double Jack Daniels.

I started the evening in a good mood, on a full stomach, with high hopes, and left hungry, but relieved to be out in the fresh night air.

I did briefly enjoy the fantasy created and alluded to by the lush, saturated colors with references to the Magic Kingdom, but other than that, I could not find anything to like about this very painful experience.

I may be in the minority, and perhaps this was too rarefied a creative effort for me to fully appreciate, but life is too short, and my instincts told me that I made the right decision to exit early.
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2/10
Can't Recommend
kcarter-208084 November 2017
I consider myself an avid movie-goer and I also write screenplays. I kept waiting for this movie to get better. No story, No goal. No real purpose. This movie got high ratings on several sights. Can't understand it. Basically, kids doing what kids do, abusive parents, terrible ending. The 2 out of 10 was me being generous. I can't recommend.
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1/10
pointless.
smarliechen13 November 2017
You can't even see the effort to tell a story. OK, let's forget about the story, we're not talking about mainstream movie, so how about an inspiring point of view? or about building interesting characters or bonds between them? Nope. I believe this is very likely the most awful film I've ever seen. It's like someone who picks up the camera by accident and shoot a random home video clips. So boring, pointless and a completely waste of your time. (And I had never seen so many people walking out of a film like this, so I guess a lot of people feel the same way.)
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2/10
Irritating
tinksmith6012 November 2017
When I go to a movie, I want to be entertained, inspired or enlightened. This movie did not. I gave 2 stars because the acting is good, but the plot is thin, annoying and stressful. Most of the movie is about unsupervised children acting like brats and getting into trouble. Even the sounds are irritating, either children making noises, to the helicopter pad outside the hotel that constantly had helicopters taking off and landing. Don't see this if you are looking for a feel good movie.
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Slow but engaging
bob the moo24 March 2018
Many years ago I remember being in a shop where a rough-as-stones mother was there with a 5 or 6 year old girl who was so well spoken and friendly that I barely believed they were together. A bit snobbish of me, but at the time I felt for the child as I assumed her path was more or less chosen for her. Life is not as simple as that, and it wasn't fair of me to judge, but it is a memory recovered while watching this film. The Florida Project takes us into a motel mostly housed by those down on their luck (to say the least). We go there via the perspective of the child Moonee, who mostly runs around with other children while her mother Halley smokes and lies around. Money comes from stripping when she can, but mostly from selling knock-offs to tourists. For Moonee though, it is a world of wonder and color.

It is important to say that it does this in a way that is very slow, and does spend a bit too long lingering in some scenes or ideas. This makes the film a bit harder for those (like myself) expecting something with more purpose, but if you know this then it is easy to go with it and be engaged by what it does. The film enjoys the nostalgic playing and fun of the children, and doesn't push the sadness of the situation. Likewise the extent of the poverty and desperation are not directly shown or labored other than the way a child would observe them. The personal drama plays out though, and in the end it is a depressing film for how it does come over as very real - and ultimately how Moonee probably doesn't have that bright future that she deserves; not to say people cannot escape poverty - but there is almost nothing here to help them do it.

The performances are strong through, which is important for a film which spends so long letting the characters just be on camera. Prince is as good as everyone says she is; utterly convincing and challenging. Dafoe is the only real 'name' in the film, but he doesn't let that be what he is there for, and he is an engaging presence. Vinaite is very good as Halley - had the performance come from an established actress then this would have been Oscar material; I wonder if her tattoos etc made people assume that she was essentially just doing what came naturally? Regardless she is nuanced, unsympathetic, but yet human - the film doesn't pander or patronize her.

The Florida Project is not an easy sell as a film, and it is perhaps a bit too slow for its own good, but it has a heart and honesty that make it work. The performances are natural and convincing throughout, and the film allows the child's wonder and fun come through, while never denying the depressing and oppressive reality of it all.
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1/10
A worthless mess
donjindra-7897230 September 2017
I've walked out on two movies that I can remember. This was one of them. At this stage in my life I simply refuse to sit through a movie that has no worthwhile characters and doesn't even try to tell a story. I lasted 45 minutes before giving up. It's about a bunch of bratty kids who keep getting into trouble, and their parents who, not surprisingly, don't know how to set an example. Willem Dafoe is the only watchable character and he's not given enough to do to make him worth watching. Nothing original here. No heart. I suggest people skip this one.
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9/10
MAMI Film Fest Review: The Florida Project.
namashi_119 October 2017
Childhood is the most important & innocent chapter in each of our lives. Its where we begin to understand what the world is all about. Its where we learn to speak & when to speak what & hope to get into a school where education makes us realize how the world functions.

Now imagine, a Childhood in a purple painted, unclean Motel in Florida, which, incidentally enough, is close to Disney World, a dream of every child out there (mine too as a kid, and I did go there). But the trip to Disney World isn't possible for all & 'The Florida Project' is about such kids, who despite knowing there is magic awaiting for them, have no option but to create a world of magic without any fireworks. Writer-Director Sean Baker delivers one of the FINEST films ever on childhood & shows us a side of a America, not many us usually stumble on in cinema. And guess what, this realistic & affecting film, is among this year's very best films!

'The Florida Project' Synopsis: Set over one summer, the film follows precocious 6-year-old Moonee (An Astonishing Brooklynn Kimberly Prince) as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother (A Fantastic Bria Vinaite), all while living in the shadows of Disney World.

'The Florida Project' is about creating the magic in the world you've born too. Moonee, the protagonist, is foul-mouthed, brash & adventurous. She may not have a school to go to or a family to support her needs, but that doesn't stop her from being fun. She finds her joy in spending time with her mother or creating a ruckus with her ragtag playmates (who also live the same life as hers) or bullying the Motel's Manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe, In A Career-Best Performance). She also binges in ice cream & sometimes, a pizza (minus pepperoni, despite that being the topping she craves for, but its expensive). Moonee makes the most of what she has & reminds us how childhood is what we make out of them. With or Without money, with or without education or, with or without, of course, Disney World.

Baker & Chris Bergoch's Screenplay touches upon the bleakness & the monotony on the lives of the poor in America, with gut-wrenching honesty & believe it or not, laugh-out-loud humor. YES, you read that right! Despite the nothingness in the surroundings, 'The Florida Project' uses humor, for the most part, to tell its story. We watch the children go through the same old routine of life, but its shown with innocent humor & a sense of immovable circumstances. Baker & Bergoch's Screenplay is simply excellent. This is an important, affecting & heartfelt film, that really makes you think about kids out there & how one should help the underprivileged. And its done with a hammering impact! Baker's Direction is outstanding. His work is among the year's most compelling efforts. I seriously hope the Academy is brave enough to honor Baker & Co., for their exceptionally fine work here.

Alexis Zabe's Cinematography captures the claustrophobic setting with great results. Baker's Editing, also, is perfect. Art & Costume Design are fabulously done & add to the authenticity.

Performance-Wise: Willem Dafoe steals the show. Dafoe, an actor par excellence, delivers a career-best turn as Bobby, the Motel's Manager/Father to all his residents. His empathizing connection with Moonee, is the film's emotional core. Subtle & Masterfully Restrained, Dafoe redefines the power of Acting with his stellar work here. He's Oscar-Worthy from start to end. Academy, do him proud! Brooklynn Kimberly Prince is astonishing. She brings Moonee to life with right mix of innocence & brashness. Bria Vinaite, as the mother, does a fantastic job. Her portrayal is natural to the core! Valeria Cotto, Christopher Rivera & the rest lend remarkable support.

On the whole, 'The Florida Project' digs deep & takes a piece out of you. This is a brave film, that unfolds in sheer power. Two Big Thumbs Up!
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1/10
Too Much Noise!
mikephoff7 January 2018
Screaming noisy children (Brats,Delinquints). This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I It was irritating all the way through. I cannot understand the good reviews, Award Nominations and Wins. Willem Dafoe is a great Actor but not worthy of Award noms for this movie. It makes me never want to go to Disney World or Florida.
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2/10
Down in the Gutter with Mickey SPOILER WARNING (Not really, not a surprise in the film)
CineasteWest23 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Just finished "The Florida Project." Ouch. That was chore. Could someone tell these indie filmmakers even the slightest bit of a plot would be nice sometime?

This might be a best picture nominee, oh, man. The plot, well, there is no plot. This film is about a little girl (6 or 7?) living with her white trash foul mouthed mother (and learning to grow up just like mom!) in a motel near Disneyworld. The kids play. The mother tricks.... for an hour and 51 minutes. That's it. It's not a slice of life at this length and pacing, it's a basement freezer full of carcasses -- and I wasn't digging it, probably because I'm forced to encounter these types every time a new bus pulls into LA from Arkansas.

Of course, they come to take her little girl away (thankfully. I was actually praying it would come much sooner. I considered calling Orlando Child Services myself halfway through the film), otherwise it was going to end with the wise-mouth kid getting hit by an tour bus of people in Mickey Mouse ears (my preferred ending).

And the big FINAL SHOTS. Wow. Talk about the ultimate cheap, easy, and student film ending. I bet director Sean Baker is so proud of his shaky eight seconds of "guerilla filmmaking" shot within the walls of Disney world. Big deal. I hate to break it him, but a half a million parent a day take the same footage, and most of it probably looks better iPhone. This was was definitely a student film gone on too long. If they had trimmed 140 minutes it almost might have been bearable.

I just want to know what these reviewers who gush about balancing the "golden visions of childhood" (6-year olds telling old ladies to f-off) with "poignant reality of the underprivileged" (mom stealing Disney passes while she gives.... service) are taking? Is it a new fad to take antidepressants before you go to the theater? Another film like this and I'll have to start.'

Of course those in love with meandering mush that screams and chokes on ARTISTIC! will love it. They go on about how touching it was. Right. Even the earliest Italian neo-realist films had the good sense to come up with a story -- even something simple like stealing a bicycle?!!

Now I remember why I avoid Florida.
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2/10
What a dog!
Gene-3910 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I, like a lot of reviewers I"ve read here, found blazingly good remarks about this film. Well acted by Dafoe, yes. By the child actors, definitely. A story of desperate survival, yes, Depressing, but nothing wrong with that. But this movie started at point A and never went anywhere. Nowhere! And then about a minute before the very end of the film - SPOILER ALERT - suddenly blaring "happy" music. I immediately was struck with the thought that "This film is going to end badly." Not a sad ending, but bad filmmaking. Yep, that's what we got. I mean really - the way to end this film was to have the kids dance off down Main Street in Disney World? Better they had been run over by a car or eaten by an alligator. Jeez.
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2/10
Tried Hard/Couldn't Make it Through
brendasorrels26 February 2018
Love Willem DeFoe - let's start there - he's awesome - and the setting in Florida with the brilliant colors etc. are amazing. HOWEVER, I had a huge problem with this pack of obnoxious kids. I suppose that was part of it, but it they were literally screaming the entire movie. There was never a quiet scene. Unbearable to watch and the adults just put up with it. The main character is just pathetic and I found it hard to watch her sink further and further into depravity... painful to think that anyone could even live like this. I wanted to finish the movie, but decided it wasn't worth spending any more time of watching something so disgusting and disturbing. I wanted to feel something for the kids who were of course the innocents, but they were so obnoxious I couldn't like them. Sad. Now sure what the point of this movie was.
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