Joe Harrison’s review published on Letterboxd:
I just want to buy Bobby a beer or something. Poor guy works way harder than he needs to.
If America is a capitalist nightmare state, Disneyland is a finely-tuned walking museum tour of that nightmare. An almost comical maximisation of the American Dream, it happily serves and celebrates those who have the stability and funds to survive in its hyper-consumer fantasyland, while actively pushing those that can’t out to the outskirts where they won’t bother those able to pay up. The Happiest Place On Earth radiates misery and destruction, infecting those unlucky enough to be caught in its path. If you're stuck in Orlando, your life is no longer yours. It belongs to the park. You can either give yourself to it, or be driven out by it.
Sean Baker shows us the humanity of those caught in the Magic Kingdom’s grasp of misery. Halley and Moonee live on both the physical and metaphorical margins of the American dream, looking mere miles away from capitalism's gaudy, destructive dedication to itself. The nightmare state has declared that they don’t belong here - or anywhere - simply because they don’t fit in the self-deluded tourist brochure that is America. Despite this, they endure together, finding their own way to not only survive, but to laugh, love and live life as best they can, thanks to the ever-present humanity and kindness of those stuck with them.
The Florida Project is about a real world hidden away inside a fake one. Unlike the hyper-commercial magic land of princesses and heroes, real people live in this world, making tough calls day by day, trying to create something out of the little they have. It’s a film about the new American Dream and the people striving for it in the ruins created by those who lived the old one.
You don’t need plastic castles and costumed actors to escape reality. You simply need to see things from a child's eyes. The eyes that haven’t been poisoned to the world, at least for now.