Paul Anthony Cassidy’s review published on Letterboxd:
Young single mum Halley(Bria Vinaite) has taken residence in a Florida motel with her six-year-old daughter Moonee (Brooklynn Prince).
Scrapping to make rent every week by selling knocked off perfumes to residents of a nearby more upmarket hotel after losing her job as an exotic dancer her daughter joins her most days though Moonee still has plenty of time to play with her friends Jancey (Valeria Cotto) and Scooty(Christopher Rivera) as they use their respective motels, as well as the surrounding area including an abandoned holiday complex as a giant playground.
With the backdrop of the unseen Disneyworld theme parks, casting an ironic shadow as underprivileged children make do with what they have which in truth isn't much but yet it doesn't seem to dilute or diminish their wonder and enjoyment of their cramped living conditions or dilapidated play areas.
Looking out for them is the motel complex manager and handyman Bobby Hicks (Willem Dafoe) who does everything from topping up the building's garish purple colour scheme to fixing the communal washing machines and warding off any potential threats to the kids.
With her economic avenues limited the rather uncouth and irascible Halley becomes desperate and soon plunders new depths to raise cash all of which are bound to bring her into loggerheads with both Bobby and the local child protection agencies.
Director Sean Baker's follow-up to his award-winning 'Tangerine' (2015) it has a similar focus on people living hand to mouth on the fringes of the American dream.
It does represent somewhat of a leap forward though technically with fabulous cinematography by Alexis Zabe who makes wonderful use of the Florida sunset for certain shots and constructs some pretty mesmeric tracking shots throughout that are executed flawlessly.
Featuring frankly wonderful performances by Defoe as the compassionate Bobby, Bria Vinaite as the shambolic yet committed Halley and Brooklynn Prince as the sassy but adorable Moonee it's an effortlessly engaging experience reminding us that right in the centre of the mecca of family tourism some less conventional family units are just trying to make it until tomorrow.