The Florida Project

The Florida Project ★★★★½

Kids shouting at each other. Running around. Unsupervised. Spitting contests. Laughing and screaming giddily. Without a care in the world. Making friends. Chucking rocks at abandoned houses. Intrigue. Curiosity. Wonder. Lighting fires. Scamming free food. Dodging scowling adults. Running wildly once again. Unadulterated. Free.

Those of us who may have grown up before technology has fully punctured itself into the whimsical cracks of exploration and adventure out of the simplest outdoor activities and whatnot have a name for this wild and (possibly) dangerous behavior: childhood.

And of course, The Florida Project has done this in the most beautifully-candid fashion. It helped capture this essence of painting a joyful picture of life through the blissful innocence of youth. A glimpse of the best and worst of opposite realities bumping into each other in gentle waves—dancing deftly around kitchen-sink and pauperised realism and instead looking at this world of vibrant mesh of colours through the eyes of characters too young to understand, or care, of the inadequate conditions that they are situated in. And the best part of it all is the pure genuineness that caresses us through and through. It’s magnetic, and can be felt off of the characters wholeheartedly as we journey through their lives with them. 

We, the viewers, are carefully and gradually enticed into this world and, when we begin to understand the implications of what’s really going on, also ultimately begin to understand the fullness of the tragedy. 

This awareness can be felt rigorously and achingly as the climax finally reaches its crescendo (which for my part made me quite emotional), and the internal worlds finally colliding fiercely with one another: with Moonee's self-willed magic kingdom and her mother's less-than-hopeful reality. 

As the children sprints further and further into the otherworldly place of fun, it feels like that of a magical moment, even as it reminds you that not everyone lives happily ever after. Even when a film is overflowing like this with such great generosity and kindness and hope and love, it’s difficult not to give the opportunity in granting these characters one final wish upon a star. 

“You know why this is my favourite tree?"

“Cause it's tipped over, and it's still growing."

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