julianblair’s review published on Letterboxd:
Overheard conversation upon leaving the theater:
"It wasn't that interesting. That's how the other half lives. What do you expect, the girl's mom was always broke..but blew her cash on Marlboros and hair dye. Just a freeloader, no wonder she lost the kid."
I know. Just take a second. Take a deep breath. There are people like that out there (tiny little Grinch hearts)...but it won't help to get worked up.
Kids are amazing. They can live anywhere, even someplace that looks desolate and worthless to us. They explore, without grown-up value judgments. They find cool nooks and crannies, they make the terrain their own. Their imagination is not jaded and limited so much yet, especially if they haven't matriculated in the public factory schools or gotten sidetracked in the social media universe.
A lot of people live in "5 day apartments" or budget motels. They don't really have a home anywhere else. Moonee's mom, for all her shortcomings, was doing her best to preserve a sense of childhood for her kid.
And Willem Dafoe, despite the sorrows in his character's personal life, was helping look out for these kids, above and beyond his job description.
One of the definitions of being a man was satisfied by Dafoe's character when he confronted the pedophile lurking near the kids. What a shining moment. A man does what is right. That's it.
And most people, even the ones not in the five percent, are just trying to get by.