The Florida Project opens at a Florida motel lying in the shadows of the Magic Kingdom. we are thrust into the perspective of young Moonee, a young girl living with her mother in the hotel. Moodee is confident, she swears a lot, and she’s the leader of a small group of friends who mirror her in most ways. it isn’t until we meet her mom, Halley, that we realize where she got it all from. Halley is trying to make ends meet but not in the way that seems at all respectable. she cuts corners, sweet-talks the right people, and avoids the wrong ones.
as a viewer, you never feel claustrophobic, you never feel more sympathy for the main characters than you need to, and you always always always feel like this could happen outside of a cinematic universe. this is due in part to the cinematography keeping things bright and well-spaced. however, this movie never takes advantage of it’s message. there are some movies with similar messages that love to pile up controversial scene after controversial scene just to hammer home the point. this film is respectful. it presents situations that allow the viewer to have a moment to themselves saying, “I know what’s happening here and I don’t like it” and it does this without being vulgar or obtrusive.
when i was a social worker i was thrust into a world i didn’t know existed. in Gilbert, Arizona there’s a road called Hunt Highway. inside a quarter mile of the north side of Hunt Highway are two golf resorts, high-income housing, and at least three shopping centers. on the south side of Hunt Highway is Native American land. what you’ll find when you cross this line is a division. the neighborhoods drop off like it’s the end of the earth. the streetlights are goneand when the roads eventually disappear dirt trails lead you to a large and active community. inside this community are families of ten living in a one bedroom home. a parent shares the bed with their children while their grandmother sleeps on a mattress next to the oven. this is a place where basic needs are consistently going unmet.
anyway, i ended this review with an anecdote so as to say: this is real. not only is it real but this is a movie that displays it so succinctly and so respectfully that it deserves a watch and then a musing and then an action from its audience.