Alex 🌲’s review published on Letterboxd:
Chasing rainbows under dreamy skies, the restraints of the life they're living far too near but just out of sight. Childhood's magic juxtaposed with life's horrors within almost episodic tales of a seemingly endless summer.
To me, this is one of the most earnest portrayals of childhood; Brooklynn Prince's performance is unbelievably genuine, deserving of all the praise it has accumulated. Willem Dafoe is the other standout, although that's practically a given at this point. And the scene with the birds is really its own tiny masterpiece. This movie wouldn't have worked for me if I didn't have an attatchment to the characters, and the one I loved most was Mooney's friend Jancey. The way that she lingers behind her friends as they adventure freely, timid but so determined to fit in with them while attempting to stick to the rules. That was where it reminded me of my childhood, how I used to act around my friends, even though Jancey's role is minimal. Halley, the mother, is maybe the most complex character, but most scenes with her heavily grated on my nerves. A few scenes with her and Moonee were a bit questionable, like (mild spoilers) when she was encouraging Moonee to twerk, the implication isn't bad but showing it on screen felt a bit off. Halley is certainly sympathetic, but the effects (some positive, many negative) that her parenting has on Moonee are completely explored. So her character wasn't a big drawback personally, it just often didn't work for me. Asides from the scenes with Willem Dafoe, I only really enjoyed the parts focusing on the children, but the sequences of them exploring the world around them are superb.
In short, this made me feel all the emotions. Some were not great, and maybe it's a little overlong, but this remains one of the most affecting movies I've watched. I completely understand criticisms of this movie, but I really love this. I need to straighten out some thoughts I have on this next time I see it, but it achieves a personal yet distant connection that not many movies do, which is rare for me but something I really like.