The Florida Project

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1hr 55mins // directed by:Sean Baker // featuring:Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite // CC, Assisted Listening

Warm, winning, and gloriously alive, Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is a deeply moving and unforgettably poignant look at childhood.

Set on a stretch of highway just outside the imagined utopia of Disney World, The Florida Project follows six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince in a stunning breakout turn) and her rebellious mother Halley (Bria Vinaite, another major discovery) over the course of a single summer. The two live week to week at “The Magic Castle,” a budget motel managed by Bobby (a career-best Willem Dafoe), whose stern exterior hides a deep reservoir of kindness and compassion.

Despite her harsh surroundings, the precocious and ebullient Moonee has no trouble making each day a celebration of life, her endless afternoons overflowing with mischief and grand adventure as she and her ragtag playmates—including Jancey, a new arrival to the area who quickly becomes Moonee’s best friend—fearlessly explore the utterly unique world into which they’ve been thrown. Unbeknownst to Moonee, however, her delicate fantasy is supported by the toil and sacrifice of Halley, who is forced to explore increasingly dangerous possibilities in order to provide for her daughter.  

"The Florida Project further cements Baker’s status as one of the most innovative American directors working today, but he’s also an essential advocate for the stories this country often doesn’t get to see." — Eric Kohn, IndieWire

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"Baker, riding on the success of Tangerine, has left the iPhone cam behind him. But the spirit of tingly visual and moral adventure that animated Tangerine — its whole absorption in the beauty of reality — is very much in play in The Florida Project. It’s a worthy and accomplished follow-up, authentic and movingly told, and it should build on the audience that Baker found with Tangerine." — Owen Gleiberman, Variety

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★★★★ "And he places his effervescent little star in a rich cultural history of child portraiture. “The Florida Project” has many antecedents: Francois Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows,” for one, and literary exposes of poverty like Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” but also classics of comic kid anarchy like “The Little Rascals” series, Jean Vigo’s “Zero for Conduct,” and Louis Malle’s “Zazie dans la Metro.” “The Florida Project” makes you understand why we rarely saw the adults in Spanky and the gang’s world — because then we’d see what the kids would be facing soon enough, and the laughs would catch in our throats." — Ty Byrr, Boston Globe

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