Sean Baker is one of the most innovative filmmakers around at the moment. His previous smash hit Tangerine was filmed on an iPhone and yet produced a vibrant, stirring, and ultimately endearing film that should be celebrated continuously and constantly spoken about in revered hush tones. Anyway, following on from his critically acclaimed debut must’ve been tricky and, usually, filmmakers falter on their sophomore outing.
Not Sean Baker, whose work on The Florida Project is an outstanding feat of independent imagination and needs to be seen by many this coming Friday.
Starring Willem Dafoe, the film revolves around a young girl and her rag-tag group of friends who live on the outskirts of Florida. Constantly living in the shadow of one giant big mouse and his magical Kingdom, Moonee and pals head off on their own summer adventures. Surrounding them are adults who try and keep their spirits up but with mounting monetary problems, the pressures start to mount, affecting a summer that should be filled with bliss.
This fervent and important colourful spectacle that reaches the depths of your soul in an unnervingly emotional way is a treasure to be seen. Baker has intertwined the desperate longing of those poverty stricken in America with the fantastical adventuresome children at the heart of it. The Florida Project is absolutely beautiful to watch with vibrant cinematography that is beautifully saturated with all the colours of the rainbow, echoing the spiritual nature of the children at the core of it. Swimming in brightness, the dazzling tones make the darker parts of the story-line that much more visceral and palpable. Baker’s conduction of all this elements is note perfect.
If that doesn’t convince you to watch the film that watch for the performances alone. Moonee is played by the completely emotive Brooklyn Prince. Think Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild, Prince is an expression-filled and charming child performer who can convey depths of emotion about subjects far beyond her age. She is hilarious to watch and profoundly brilliant.
Surrounding Moonee in her role is newcomer Bria Vinaite, playing Halley, who certainly puts herself on the map in her performance as Moonee’s brash but mesmeric mother. As Motel Manager Bobby, a cretinous and bullying character, Willem Defoe definitely puts in a performance that is sure to earn him Best Supporting Actor. Terrific, astute, and completely three dimensional, he is intensely intimate and wonderfully captivating.
There isn’t much more I can gush about with The Florida Project that doesn’t repeat words such as outstanding and brilliant. In fact, I could fill this whole article with solely those words. The music from The LEGO Batman Movie’s Lorne Balfe is exquisite, Alexis Zabe’s cinematography is impeccable, the story is mournful and magnificent, and the actors are layered and real. It is beat perfect: a sun-kissed movie that must be scene for all its little wonders.
The Florida Project proves that independent cinema is at the top of its game.
And Sean Baker? Well, he might just be the king of the castle.
The Florida Project is out 10th November!