“The Florida Project” is the Slice of Truth We Needed

October 31, 2017Joshua Jean B

The demand for truth in 2017 is higher than ever. Social media, free press, and entertainment are being seized more and more by stories that bleed authenticity. Ideally, this would give audiences across the world more insight into topics they would have otherwise ignored. Florida – fresh off the success of Moonlight, has another wave to ride. Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is another example of how cinema is used to shine a much-needed light on the darker backdrops of society.

Photo by The Film Stage

Baker masterfully pens and casts a group of seasoned and green actors to tell the story of the “hidden homeless” issue plaguing our country and our state. The film revolves around a specific community of low-income families residing in short-term motels in Kissimmee, Florida. The story follows Moonee played by the 7-year-old firecracker Brooklynn Prince, and her mother Hallie played by Bria Vinatie who struggles to make rent. Willem Dafoe stars as Bobby the under-appreciated yet empathetic manager who handles the day to day operations and relationships with the tenants. Moonee recruits Scooty and Jancey (played by newcomers Valeria Cotto and Christopher Rivera) to claim the motel as their stomping grounds. The film seamlessly shifts from the cold economic realities Hallie faces as a mother, to the sheer magical innocence of being a kid.

Brooklyn prince does a phenomenal job of keeping up with her co-stars. I was honored to see the Miami premiere of the movie and got some insight on who she is as a person. Her personality is fit so well to portray this character it automatically brings a smile to your face and turns you into a fan. Seeing her iron away dramatic moments with charm kept the movement afloat and drew you in as the story unfolded. Dafoe’s performance made sure not to take any of the oxygen from the other actors, although he was as impeccable as ever. Keeping his talents understated, he remained a solid thread connecting all of the characters for which his character felt bound to help. Moonee’s friends Scooty and Jancey were her perfect counterparts, playing off her improvisation with ease.

Photo by Variety

Baker makes simple slices of life compelling. Like a fly on the wall, you’ll witness heartfelt and heartbreaking moments that simply come from the frustration of low-income living and the desire to get out of it. I highly recommend seeing The Florida Project, it gives charming and insightful perspective to a real issue that doesn’t patronize the subjects but instead embraces the beauty of life’s simple pleasures that can be found in every situation.

The Florida Project is now playing in Miami, so don’t miss out on what will surely be another award season dark horse out of Florida.