‘The Florida Project’ pulls at heart strings

Jarrod Flaherty
Staff Writer

The Florida Project, a film by Sean Baker, released in select theaters on Oct. 6. COURTESY OF CUINDEPENDANT.COM

The Florida Project, a film by Sean Baker, released in select theaters on Oct. 6.

You know a film is special when, as the credits roll, the audience lingers to process what they just watched. This was the case with The Florida Project, a movie that is something really special.

Touching, moving and heartbreaking, this film hasn’t left my mind since.

Directed by Sean Baker, the indie film takes place in a run-down hotel on the outskirts of Disneyland, managed by Bobby, who was portrayed exceptionally by Willem Dafoe.

The story centers on the day-to-day adventures of a young girl named Moonee. This pretense may sound simplistic, but it develops into so much more.

Baker devotes a lot of time to scenes in which the camera follows Moonee and her friends.This works well, though, because the impressive performances and writing create scenes that are a lot of fun to watch.

The characters feel like real people instead of typical movie clichés. The script allows for prolonged scenes of dialogue that give the characters the depth and intricacy to be realistic.
Florida itself is just as important as all of the characters involved. Baker represents how interesting and colorful the state is, which is one of the film’s biggest strengths. However, Florida is unpredictable, too. The kids might be getting ice cream on a hot summer day in one scene, but then setting a building on fire in the next.

Much of the film’s strength is a result of each cast member’s astounding performances. Particularly, the children are adept in playing characters as complicated and unpredictable as the adult actors.

They take on emotionally-charged roles, with admonishable behavior like begging for money on a side street or spitting on someone’s car. Yet, despite their apathy and audacity, they somehow find a way to win you over with their charm and likeability.

We also get a glimpse of the rough home life of each of these kids, especially Moonee. The parents curse, drink and smoke pot carelessly in the presence of their children.

It was jarring to think that parents like this exist, even in a movie, but the film dares to portray these hard-to-watch scenes in order to contribute to its impact.

The Florida Project surprised me. Admittedly, I had no idea what to expect as i walked into the theater, but as I exited I was in awe of this poignant film.

I highly suggest taking a trip to the theater to enjoy the experience of The Florida Project. It is moving and unconventional, but if you give it a chance, you surely won’t be disappointed.

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