The Florida Project

The Florida Project ★★★★★

Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is an ode to the underclass of America, a social realist piece tantamount to the grittiness and warmth of Andrea Arnold’s American Honey in the way that Baker depicts poverty at its most cruel - the desperation to find any source of income at any means, kids sharing a single ice cream cone; but also in the way that there’s poeticism to be found between the cracks, the camaraderie and sense of community among this crowd of societal misfits. 

This is, of course, a portrayal of a bleak, mundane and impoverished existence, yet it’s uplifted by an undeniable vibrancy to the presentation of it all, the brightly coloured motel and the sun-kissed streets; there’s a warmth that surrounds Sean Baker’s vision. 

Such warmth can also be seen in the killer performances on display. Like most social realist pieces, Baker finds a balance between the statuses of his cast by integrating an A-list star in Willem Dafoe with an ensemble of non-professional actors. Of course, Dafoe is faultless in his role, playing a considerate, no-nonsense caretaker and motel manager who becomes somewhat of a fatherly figure to those inhabiting the shoddy, although over-glamorised, motel. But the true stars of the show are the mother and daughter outing from Bria Vinaite and Brooklynn Prince, whose performances are truly remarkable. The infectious duality between the pair result in a dysfunctional family unit, Prince’s Moonee is very much a result of the way she’s been brought up by her mother; foul-mouthed, full of attitude and aggression, but also at the core, full of love and potential. They are simply victims of the poverty that consumes them, yet they find levity at every opportunity. 

Loved it, loved it, LOVED it. An instant favourite.

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