Ian Fastert’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Grand Budapest Motel.
(I'm definitely not the first person to come up with that but it's too perfect for me not to put in)
The Florida Project is whimsical. In it's best moments, it takes advantage of this whimsy in powerful ways, ways that made me feel 7 and full of joy.
But those moments, sadly, did not make up most of the experience for me.
I just feel like it's too repetitive and long; there are a lot of really nice moments of the children enjoying living and finding joy even in the worst of places, but after awhile it becomes scene after scene of that until they don't feel as special anymore (excluding the quietly excellent rainbow scene and the beautiful fireworks scene). I just wish they stuck with the more powerful ones and cut out all of the fatty, time killing ones. The length is a real killer here; in a movie that feels like it's more about letting you get into this different, weird and beautiful world than plot, you can't let that world get boring, and after awhile it sadly does. I love the feeling of being a kid, I loved seeing the experiences that these kids went through and how completely different they were from my own, but a lot of them just lacked purpose, and those sadly overpowered my positive feelings of the film after it ended.
Another thing that makes the movie feel unnecessarily long is the shift in focus onto the adults in the second half. I was fine with all the Willem Dafoe scenes, as both his character and his performance were deeply interesting to watch, but Moony(the main girl)'s scenes changing from her and her friends to her and her mom in this second half felt forced, as if they were only there so that the end was more powerful. This is especially frustrating as I don't think the end was worth derailing the movie in this way; I know what they were going for, but it just lacks...impact, I guess. And the last 30 seconds are just not good, and left me with a sour taste in my mouth.
Any movie with Willem Dafoe is worth a watch though, and he really does knock it out of the park here (all the actors do! 2017 was the year of quality ass performances!). It has some beautiful moments, but on the whole it just doesn't feel all there. Sadly mixed.