James Reilly reviews The Florida Project.

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Sean Baker is quickly making a name for himself as one of the most original and powerful voices for middle America the film industry has seen in recent years. His last film, Tangerine (2015) received wide spread critical and audience acclaim, yet due to its quirky and extremely niche nature the film was left out of most mainstream awards. The Florida Project however has had better luck at being an early Oscar contender, yet while appealing more to mainstream sensibilities this time around, Baker has not left his independent flair for the quirky realism out in the cold.

The Florida Project is an enchanting, brutally beautiful story about 6-year old Moonee, and her experiences of living next to Disney-Land Florida over summer. Not since A Ghost Story (David Lowery, 2017), has a film been so darkly beautiful and captured the emotions of life in such an impactful manor. Watching Moonee’s journey into adolescence, and venturing into her mother’s footsteps, watching history repeating itself it’s a timely message of American society. The film manages to draw attention to the contrasts of Moonee’s innocent naivety with her mother’s disingenuous awareness of the world around her and what will await Moonee. While operating as a mother-daughter dynamic in the film, it’s more like a before and after of the eventual decline in Moonee’s innocence. The end of the film serves as a tragic reminder for the audience, as for the first time in the film her innocence is broken and reality creeps in.

The cast are all incredibly cast here, but a special mention must be left for Brooklyn Prince’s Moonee. For such a young actress in such a potentially massively critically successful film, she carried the film on her tiny shoulders and I cannot wait to see what she does next. She has a passionate voice that I’ve not seen since the early career of Abigail Breslin have I seen such potential in such a young actress.  Willem Dafoe should also get a special mention on how, when he is on screen, carries a demanding presence that is so charismatic and enchanting that I’d love him to get some love come awards time.

There’s been a few films this year that have captured my imagination, A Ghost Story, Raw etc, but this film has taken be emotionally and not let me out of its gripped since I first saw it weeks ago. I can only urge you so much over text as to how much this film could impact you, and become a favourite for years to come. Its haunting, beautiful and above all a damn good piece of cinematic art.


By James Reilly

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