Starring Willem Dafoe and newcomers Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project attempts to tell the story of six year old Moonee, who is growing up in an unstable, single parent home with an unstable mother, with little to no supervision. Moonee’s life is so fragile, as she always seems to be in danger, somehow.
This movie is frightening to watch at times. A six year old and her not much older friends, left to their own devices to roam the streets of Florida without any adult supervision on a daily basis causes the imagination to roam as you consider every bad thing that could happen to these children. On the other hand, it was also good to see and remember a time when kids went out to play on their own. I did it. Not when I was six though! It becomes suspenseful because my parental mind was just waiting to see what would happen to these wild, roaming, mostly bored, poorly trained children. As a parent, it’s like watching a very stressful horror movie. Sean Baker did a wonderful job co-writing and directing.
Willem Dafoe is the manager at the temporary hotel where Moonee and her mom “live.” They have to leave after 29 days for some period of time each month so they do not establish “residency” and become difficult to evict. Dafoe does some of the best acting I’ve seen on screen from a veteran actor at his level in a while. There was no “phoning it in.” This is difficult and sensitive subject matter and he portrays this man with separate loyalties to his job and the people he is charged with monitoring at this transient hotel. He seems to have compassion for them, but cannot become too entangled in their mess because he has a job to do.
I personally find it incredible that Bria Vinaite was not nominated for Best Supporting Actress. This woman went from posting videos on Instagram to starring in her first feature film. She may be a “newbie,” but she does for this movie what Frances McDormand does for Three Billboards. She breathes life into this role and this film, playing this complex, flawed character, that you just feel so very sorry for. Even at times when terrible things are happening in this character’s life, she finds ways to make it bearable, even at times enjoyable, for her daughter. She also finds many ways to make a bad situation worse. She is just so human and imperfect. Despite her being a failure as a mother in so many ways, she will make you feel sympathy toward her, and then repel you – sometimes simultaneously. Although she is under educated, poor, has unstable housing and very little impulse control; like every other parent, she does the best she can with what she knows at the time. And she doesn’t know much. Her character is so interesting, you can only imagine what the back story on her family is. Why did she have no help? I imagined some of the most tragic things having happened to her to cause her to behave the way she does. She’s so emotionally unstable, perhaps the family tried to help and couldn’t deal with her issues. No one could blame them if that is the case. She’s like a bomb just waiting for any reason to go off, even lashing out at those who are trying to help her. She is the personification of the saying, hurt people hurt people. And Vinaite’s performance is powerful.
The Florida Project earned 7.5 out of 10 bloops. It is a good movie worth seeing, mainly because of Vinaite’s performance. Also, it will make you grateful for everything you have, including common sense (if you have it), basic education (if you have it), a support system/family (if you have one), a permanent home (if you’ve got one), a mother (or having had) who raised you with some nurturing and encouragement and fed you, clothed you, made sure you were clean, etc. Take nothing for granted. The Academy truly snubbed one great performance.
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
What I’m seeing/reviewing next…
A Wrinkle In Time – I’ve not read the book and was debating whether to do so before seeing the movie. I’m going to pass and see if this movie is good enough to make me want to read the book. I read Girl on the Train before seeing the movie and it totally ruined for me. Yes. I know. The book is usually better than the movie, but I want my mind to be clear to critique the movie on its own merits, not how closely it followed the book, or picking over what was added or left out. So that’s how I’m going to play it. I didn’t get to see it in previews, so that will be up Friday.
Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World
The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist
Call Me By Your Name
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The Big Sick
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Kong: Skull Island
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea