The Florida Project
THE FLORIDA PROJECT (15)
D: Sean Baker
A24/Cre Film/Freestyle Picture Company/Cinereach/June (Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch, Kevin Chinoy, Andrew Duncan, Alex Saks, Francesca Silvestri & Shih-Chung Tsou)
USA 🇺🇸 2017
W: Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch
DP: Alexis Zabe
Ed: Sean Baker
Mus: Lorne Balfe
Brooklynn Prince (Moonee), Bria Vinaite (Halley), Willem Dafoe (Bobby Hicks), Valeria Cotto (Jancey), Christopher Rivera (Scooty)
There are some who have compared The Florida Project with 2016's Moonlight, but that may not be a shining endorsement of Sean Baker's urban drama, which features a trio of brilliant performance in its less than glamorous setting.
The title itself is an ironic one, making reference to the original name that the Epcot Center has become, a theme park to mirror Orlando's Disneyworld.
Set on the outskirts of Disney's magical kingdom, the story takes place at a rundown motel which has been in decline since its 1960's heyday, and has now become residence to many undesirable tenants, two of whom are Halley, an unemployed single mother who makes her rent by selling stolen goods and occasional prostitution, and her 6-year-old daughter Moonee, who is very much the focal point of the film, spending her school summer break on the motel grounds with her friends, getting up to mischief and begging tourists for ice cream money.
Willem Dafoe also plays a prominent role as the hotel manager, Bobby, trying his best to keep his residents happy as well as keeping the place in business.
The two main actresses, Bria Vinaite and Brooklynn Prince do an excellent job with their film debuts, and an Oscar nomination for the juvenile actress honestly wouldn't come as too big a surprise. Willem Dafoe scoring a third nomination is a certainty - watch this space!
The abrupt ending won't be to everyone's taste, but this still remains one of the best independent films of 2017.