“The Florida Project” gives us a glimpse into the world of the homeless through the innocent eyes of a child. It masquerades as a series of vignettes that catalogue a young girl’s adventures but actually reveals the toxic world that her irreverent mother has created. The improvised script and cinematography establish the guerilla-like tone that director Sean Baker envisioned; however, I found it difficult to fully digest the story because the important themes aren’t woven throughout the dialogue. As a result, I didn’t realize how much of the film was hard to stomach until the next day. One of the most amazing aspects of this film is its genius setting. The characters’ proximity to Walt Disney World reinforces the film’s central theme: Hope is just down the road but seemingly unreachable. I found the most memorable part of the film to be my complete disgust for Moonee’s mother. Bria Vinaite, in her acting debut, turns this character into literally the most detestable human being that I have ever seen. I was really angry with the casting throughout the film, until I finally realized that she was delivering an incredible performance. I’m sure that the script’s character description said something about being “unbearably trashy,” but the improvised nature of the script leads me to give most of the credit to the actress and not the writers. I’d go as far as to say that she deserved a Best Actress nomination more than (dare I say?) Meryl Streep for being so completely hateable. Willem Dafoe deservedly received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the father-like motel manager who finds a way to love his residents, regardless of the sad circumstances that they have embraced. He is a perfect dynamic contrast to Vinaite. Brooklynn Prince also received widespread acclaim as Moonee but it didn’t click for me until the final scene where we got to see actual acting instead of a kid just being a kid. Her character is a brat, but you forgive her every step along the way because of her circumstances. It is also important to note how much of the film Prince carried on her shoulders (even if she is just acting like a kid the whole time). “The Florida Project” probably won’t resonate with a lot of people due to its improvised nature, sad content, and unclear storytelling, but it is an impressive display of acting that is sure to leave you feeling all sorts of emotions in the end.
[Pictured: Vinaite gives one of the most cringy performances ever (in a good way)]