THE FLORIDA PROJECT: We Don't Really Need Event Films

What's going on, you guys! I finally took the time to watch The Florida Project. Sean Baker directed it and it is an A24 distribution. It was released in 2017 and stars Brooklyn Prince, Bria Vinaite, and Willam Defoe. The film's synopsis: "Set over one summer, the film follows precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Walt Disney World" (IMDb). It was an awards season favorite, although I don't believe it took home any Oscars. Defoe was nominated for best supporting actor. He won that award in the Golden Globes that year though.

I really do like this film a lot. I titled this article the way I did, not because I am against big, action event films, but to really show my support for films such as this. The best way to describe it, to me, is to call it a, "slice of life." I think the story feels very honest. It feels real. I legitimately caught myself forgetting that these are actors (even Dafoe) and it's a movie. Not even a documentary, but narrative fiction. The beauty in a story like this, and this one specifically, is that the film picks up at one small stretch of time in a small corner of the world, focused on these people that you wouldn't really think twice about if you saw them on the street. I am still processing the film, so I wonder how exactly Baker managed to capture the experience of Moonee the way he did. Every time there was a cut to the start of another day. Moonee and Scooty, Moonee and Janice, or all three, just sitting under that stair case or in front of a wall in the hot sun, just hanging out, They always come up with something mischievous to do, but those long summer days out of school where the world is yours as a kid? Great, nostalgic memories! I had a very different childhood than the children in this film, so I don't share experiences, but I do get it. Willam Dafoe is transcendent in the film, i can't give him enough credit. Still, I think the film was absolutely carried by Brooklynn Prince. She just has that it factor! I honestly hope she doesn't get stuck as a child actor, but if she does? Look out Hollywood! This kid is charismatic, funny, smart, and emotional. Baker and his casting director deserve plenty of credit for choosing her and working well with her, but she really killed that role. This movie was, probably, any other kid would not have been as good as it was. She really had me believing that she is just a real person living that exact life out there right now. Even with that ending!!

That ending (I won't spoil anything, even though the film is pretty old. This is a real surface level sort of review or comment on the movie) was a big switch from the rest of the film. Different style, uplifting, and unexpected. It does work. Speaking of style, Baker achieved an interesting style. Most shots in the movie begin rather drawn back. We can see far into the distance, the camera is still, we see full bodies in the frame. Then he uses character movement to fill the frame to a point, then he makes a move. He does switch to handheld a coupe of times, but really only at the end. Once again, a real switch up at the very end of the film. Baker achieves an almost ethereal, calm vibe amidst the chaos that can be Moonee's life. She is young and free and doesn't worry about it, so I think that is where it comes from. It is, basically, her point of view. Not exclusively, but basically. So we mostly see it as a big, huge world with beauty, friends, and fun. That is why it hits so so hard when we see the... Not-so-positive scenes and are shown the reality of her and her mom's situation. Florida Project is a very raw and honest film and is definitely one that I recommend watching. It is available to stream on Netflix currently!

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