Vanessa’s review published on Letterboxd:
I really enjoyed Sean Baker's previous film Tangerine, and had been meaning to watch The Florida Project for a while. And after watching this I can say that it was truly worth it, but I can completely see why some people would hate this - not for the style specifically, I think anyone can appreciate that, but because of the characters.
I was pretty damn sure that I was going to give this a 2 star rating for the first half hour or so. The characters in this are realistic for sure, but often times they are completely vile. If you were ever on the fence about having kids, this could flip it to a 'never ever' for you. Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) is one of the most infuriatingly badly-behaved kids I have seen in a long time on screen, and because of the realism of the performance it made it even harder to endure her and her disrespectful behaviour. And her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) isn't much better - out of control, offensive, the definition of a hustler. And for the majority of the first half we see Moonee running riot with her friends around the motel they stay in (and beyond), much to the chagrin of motel manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe).
Patience is definitely required with this film though. As the film progresses, I found myself getting sucked in more and more. The actual storyline of the film flourishes organically from the chaos that starts it off, and I found myself in a strange way caring about the fate of these characters, even though I didn't like them. And I think that's one of the great things about this movie, how it can make you see the humanity in situations that seem odious and completely dire, and understand where people are coming from even if you wholeheartedly don't agree with them. I also really liked the way this film ended - it's not a Hollywood fairytale, there is no male saviour. It's quite refreshing.
I think I may actually have preferred this to Tangerine, but I'd probably have to watch both of them again to fully make my mind up on that one. Either way, it is definitely worth a watch, though it's completely a Marmite movie.