I always say that I am probably not a parent because I would be so strict to my kids. I believe in total discipline, and I always cringe when I see kids that are so well-behaved. Yes, in my mind I judge these parents, because I would never let my kids do half the things kids nowadays get away with. With that said, I must say that halfway through Sean Baker’s ‘The Florida Project,’ I wanted to slap these kids in the movie – Brooklynn Prince as Moonee, Christopher River as Scotty, Valeria Cotto as Jancey – because they are so unrukly and undisciplined.
Then I realized that’s where the greatness of this movie lies, because it is probably a reflection of reality, one that I am frankly far away from, in an environment I am mostly unfamiliar with. And isn’t that the beauty of cinema? This world of motels outside Orlando is as foreign to me as the one in Avatar. These motels are just outside Walt Disney World, and I am the most Disney park person you would ever find. These kids grow up mostly unsupervised in these motels, with their parents working non stop in the area. Moone’s mom Halley (Bria Vinette) makes by selling cheap perfume at the parking lot of the better hotels. And when that fizzled out results to flesh jobs.
I ultimately loved the movie. Just like Baker’s earlier movie ‘Tangerine,’ we get involved in the character’s lives as we tag along to how they live it. Here I am hours later after seeing the film, and the children in the movie are still on my mind. Willem Dafoe, starring as Bobby, the hotel’s manager/super has been getting accolades for his role here, is subtle but effective, and you can understand his character more by his actions (a glance here, a touch there) than what he says. Ultimately, this is a great small film, big in heart and awareness.