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The Florida Project

by Kilian Melloy
Wednesday Feb 21, 2018
The Florida Project

After the success of "Tangerine," director Sean Baker found delight and drama in another unlikely place: The children of America's chronically homeless families.

In "The Florida Project," a few such families intersect at a budget motel, a brightly-hued place near Disney World where a six-year-old girl named Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives with her young single mother Hallee (Bria Vinaite). Moonee's equally young friends dwell at the same motel, and at a similar place just down the road. The kids have foul mouths but sweet souls, and as a group, they explore their surroundings under the watchful eye of kindly motel manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe, nominated for an Oscar for his performance).

Summer-like and upbeat as the movie is at its beginning, by the end it's turned into something different -- and something more: A meditation on how life's rough and ragged edges chip away at morals and happiness, leaving those who slip through the cracks with hollow dreams and dashed hopes.

Baker, co-writer Chris Bergoch, and much of the cast (including Dafoe, Vinaite, and the film's precociously articulate seven-year-old star) appear in a series of interviews about the movie, their experience making the film (many of the cast being non-professional or what Baker calls "first-time" actors), and each other. There's a fair amount of mutual back-slapping, but also a lot of insight into Baker's aims and working methods.

There's also a featurette about the film's production, which nips behind the scenes and reveals the beautiful bit of serendipity in which a rainbow -- originally intended to be produced with CGI -- showed up on its own, to the crew's amazement and gratification.

Bloopers and outtakes are also included.

"The Florida Project"

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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