This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Nick J’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
The Florida Project is a sweet and enjoyable film, capturing the adventurous spirit of childhood through the eyes of its child protagonists who are just allowed to be kids on camera. The comparisons to neorealism, especially Fellini, are well earned, with a great combination of well-established actors interacting with more amateurish ones in this world of heightened reality. It's not quite a "story" and it's not quite a character study, more of a people/environment story of the people that live in the shadow of Florida's amusement park industry. The pastel, gaudy colors of the motels and gift stores (most of which my mom and I had a blast trying to figure out if we saw them during our most recent trip to Florida) are both a treat for the eyes for this fairytale-esque world and a reminder of the blatant class divides bandaged up with neon colors, similar to the favelas of Brazil. The characters are lovable (even if I would never want to encounter a single one in reality. Well, maybe I'd grab a drink with Bobby.), the movie can be gut-bustlingly funny with how much of lovable little shits the kids can be, and more tense, emotional moments are done well (Charlie Coachman is one of the scariest movie "antagonists" I've seen in a while).
However, I'm a stickler for good narratives, and I don't think the aimless form of the movie did much for me, nor will it for you if you're not into films that feel more like snapshots than stories. It takes a while for there to be any big conflicts between characters (Halley and Ashley). And that leads me to the biggest problem I had with this movie: the ending. I have never laughed so hard at something I hated so much. It's such sugary sweet crap, a panic button solution for how to resolve something as heartbreaking as Moonee being relocated that dropkicks your suspension of disbelief to the fucking moon. And how am I not supposed to write in the unwritten "fourth act" that Moonnee gets caught, either by the police or by goddamn Charlie Coachman, and shit hits the fan for her? Bobby couldn't step in to take care of her, completing some sort of arc for him? Scooty couldn't come with them so we can see the triumph of them reuniting and having one last adventure? Not even a scene beforehand of the kids talking about how much they'd love to go to Disney, talking about their crazy wild ideas of what'd they do when they get there? It's so poorly done and so discongruent with whatever the script had to work with. It’s such ridiculous schlock. Now, if you excuse me now that I'm done complaining about happy stuff, I'm going to go listen to Korn and watch Rick & Morty and Madoka Magica, and then wonder why I'm so depressed.