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Movie Review: 2017 ‘The Florida Project’

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

“The Florida Project” is a new film directed by Sean Baker. Baker is famous for directing the award-winning film “Tangerine,” which was filmed using only iPhones.

This film features a story about a little girl named Mooni (Brooklyn Prince) who is growing up in a seedy motel nestled close to Disney World in Florida. Although she resides close to the Magic Kingdom, her life bears no resemblance to the children brought to Florida on vacation.

“The Florida Project,” explores the outcast and the semi-homeless and their day to day lives living on the edge. As difficult of life it is for the adults, the children born into this way of life are truly starting off in life in the worst possible place.

It is Mooni’s life that is explored in-depth in “The Florida Project.” Her mother Halley (played by newcomer Bria Vinaite) is a very young, irresponsible hooker, who does show her daughter affection and love. But both Mooni and her mother are victims of the circumstance and youth.

Mooni and her other playmates are living a life no children should. And making matters even worst, Halley not only ignores her child’s destructiveness, but she incites it.

Willem Dafoe plays Bobby, the manager of the beleaguered motel. He is only his character that gives any hope for the wayward lives living in his hotel.

This film lacks any defining direction, except for the end of the film. Most of the film is just a long string of scenes of Mooni and her friends acting out, getting in trouble and never facing any consequences for her behavior. Halley’s acceptance of her daughter’s actions is appalling, and her outlandish acts go so far as to make theatergoers begin to feel like victims of their conduction.

There is no epiphany learned by Halley, and there is no arc to the film’s structure, and the film is too long. It could have had twenty minutes cut out, and it would have been a better film. And the ending is completely predictable.

As a person that can relate to his child’s life, I was disappointed by “The Florida Project.” There is more to storytelling than a beginning and an end. The film does a good job of exploring the irony of the lives led in deplorable conditions – all just minutes away from The Magic Kingdon. But it's not enough pay out to make the film a winner in my book.

The brightest part of “The Florida Project,” is the adolescent performance by Brooklyn Prince as Mooni. It is obvious that in many scenes she was told to be herself (and perhaps do things that would get her in trouble), and it is completely easy to see that her precociousness will help her win many new parts in the motion picture industry.

All in all, “The Florida Project,” had a few attempts at being a great film, but it meanders too much to really make it.

“The Florida Project,” is rated R for language throughout, disturbing behavior, sexual references and some drug material. The film has a rune-time of 1 hour and 55 minutes.

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