The Florida Project review by Charlotte Burholt

Amid a strained existence in a world of poverty, The Florida Project explores the experience of both adults and children living in the shunned outskirts of the infamous Disney World. Directed by Sean Baker, the film follows tales of friendship and family in a way that feels truly intimate.

The Florida Project was screened at the Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen as part of Flatpack Film Festival’s project, Flatpack: Assemble. As part of the initiative to ‘build a more thriving, connected film community in the [West Midlands] region’, Flatpack delivers screenings of independent films to increase viewership and provide a variety of events for those interested.

From the outset it is the stark use of colour that is most striking about this film. Pastel buildings and bright clothing act as direct contrast to the vivid shots of impoverished industrial and rural surroundings. The hotel block in which the main characters reside, Magic Castle, is in itself a jarring conflict in ideals. It is these elements that highlights the main dichotomy presented – the conflict between the simple world of the child and the reality that is faced by the adults.

However, there is predominate focus on the experience of the children. The film’s occasional documentary style shooting creates a sense of authenticity about the interactions of friends Moonee, Jancey and Scooty.

Hers is an endearing and heart-warming performance of childhood, despite her character being ultimately destructive, rude and disrespectful.

We see life predominately through Moonee, played brilliantly by Brooklynn Prince. Hers is an endearing and heart-warming performance of childhood, despite her character being ultimately destructive, rude and disrespectful. As the film develops we see that it is these qualities that are learnt from her young mother, Halley. Yet Bria Vinaite’s portrayal of such a complex role leaves the audience with empathy for her – it is clear that her anger at the world is caused by the struggle she faces in providing for her child.

We see poverty slowly wearing away at the friendships and families in this film. Yet, in a rather life-affirming shot of Moonee and Jancey holding eachother and looking off into the Floridian surroundings, it is clear that children’s bonds rise above it all.

The Florida Project is a touching piece of work that displays both euphoric highs and desperate lows, childlike imaginings and powerful realism. It is not to be missed.

The film is out in the UK on 10th November.

Review by Charlotte Burholt for Grapevine Birmingham @charburholt

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