Michael Cox’s review published on Letterboxd:
"These are the rooms we're not supposed to go in. But let's go anyway!" - Moonee
This film had its happy moments of course, but this was mostly depressing and hard to watch.
The film was an experience, that's for sure. It's an excellent reminder of one's childhood innocence despite the hardships that were going on at the same time. We were all mischievous at one point or knew kids who were like these characters.
It's an A24 film, so expect wonderful cinematography and this film had it. It was colorful and the shots were brilliantly composed whether it be you always notice something in the background or made sure it was pleasing to the eyes. It also helped add to the wonder that the children were feeling wherever they went. The pacing was pretty good. I didn't feel the two-hour runtime, so that's good. The direction is amazing. He was able to bring excellent performances out from all of these non-actors and an awesome performance from Willem Dafoe (which I'll get into later). It also made you feel like you were apart of this whole community, so props to Sean Baker.
Speaking of those performances, Brooklyn Prince (Moonee) is a star in the making. She truly encapsulated how children are. She was so innocent and mischievous. When she spoke, her vocal patterns were really authentic. It didn't feel like she was acting. You could say the same for a lot of the performances from the children. It all felt genuine.
The same goes for the adult performances. No one felt like they were acting. It's as if somebody professionally recorded a month in the life of this community at the hotel. Bria Vinaite (Halley) delivered an incredible performance. Her relationship with Moonee was really believable. I bet off-screen those two are like best friends. Their connection was so good!
Of course, I have to talk about my man, Willem Dafoe (Bobby)! He was just so effortless in this performance. It felt natural and genuine. Like he did an awesome job.
The only problem I have with this film is that these characters are trashy. It's not the most enjoyable experience to watch these characters and what they go through. Halley (Bria Vinaite) is an awful person and not the best mom. She's doing her best to make her child happy and that's great to see, but other than that, she's a really bad influence. The ending I wasn't too fond of either. There's also no story whatsoever! I know it's an experience, but I would've preferred if there was a story.
I loved this film, but it suffered from a lack of story and trashy characters. It's not a masterpiece because of those reasons, but it still is an A24 hit! Check it out if you have not.