Set to the backdrop of a dystopian Disneyland, The Florida Project represents friendship, the working class and the love of a mother, all through the eyes of a child. Six-year-old Mooney is the main protagonist of the film and she and her two friends spend the film trying to occupy themselves during the long, hot Florida summer. Being children, they, of course, get up to more mischief than good, including asking strangers for money to buy ice-cream to cure their asthma, playing in abandoned houses and spitting on local’s cars.
Despite all this, the film is essentially about a representation of the ‘other’ America as almost straight away in the film it becomes clear that Mooney lives with her single mother in a motel room outside of Disneyworld in a complex originally meant for tourists on a budget but has now become a welfare estate for those with little money. This sense of dismay is juxtaposed with the bright, garish colours of both the motel and its man-made surroundings that bring amazing visual surrealism to the already amazingly aesthetics of the film. This film has a big feeling of ‘realness’ which is felt through the elongated and close up shots used of the characters doing very normal things, like eating or talking.
The film stars an array of well known Hollywood actors such as Willem Defoe but also introduces some new stars to the screen such as Brooklyn Prince (who plays Mooney) and Instagram famous, Bria Vinaite (playing Mooney’s mum) but excellent acting is performed by all and there are already even rumours of Oscars being won in the new year. The real genius, however, comes from director Sean Baker, who after making the absorbing and human film, Tangerine, a film about transgender prostitutes in LA, has managed to create another masterpiece that explores the human condition in a light-hearted, yet weirdly intense way.
This movie is worth a watch this winter for experiencing not only what is sure to become a cult hit, also to enjoy the entertainment of the children’s cheekiness that brings real depth and warmth to what is otherwise a serious storyline.