The Florida Project

[3 stars]

In his first feature follow-up to the notable Tangerine, co-writer and director Sean Baker offers this kaleidoscopic view of a low-rent motel and the children that inhabit it. Through a series of vignettes and some careful crafting, he and co-writer Chris Bergoch layout the life and background with nary a moment of exposition. It is an impressive, if slightly depressing, feat.

If you’ve heard about this film at all, it is probably in conjunction with Willem DaFoe (Death Note), whose performance is definitely something of note. It is a very quiet turn, but full of layers and unspoken depths. Best of the year in supporting? Probably not, but certainly one to be proud of and to appreciate. A cameo by Caleb Landry Jones (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) is also worth mentioning, though more for “spot the actor” than anything particularly brilliant.

But the real stars of this movie are the kids. In particular, the barely known Brooklynn Prince who drives the entire story.  The kid has chops and potential. With luck, she will grow into her presence and ability. Bria Vinaite as her mom also has a heck of a first run on the big screen.

The final moments of the film are powerful. How you interpret them will be up to you. To me they were a layered set of commentary both within and without the movie. They aren’t entirely satisfying, either, but then you wouldn’t expect it to be so given the characters involved.

The Florida Project

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