Set over one summer, the film follows precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while... Read allSet over one summer, the film follows precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Walt Disney World.Set over one summer, the film follows precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Walt Disney World.
The same also goes for 'The Florida Project', after seeing it and not being let down, being more or less what was expected. Not quite one of my very favourite films of 2017 (although actually it very nearly was), but as far as a wildly inconsistent year for film goes to me it's in the better half. It is hard to say which is my favourite or least favourite of 'Starlet', 'Tangerine' and 'The Florida Project', because they are as good as each other and are very good films in their own way. They have the same strengths pretty much and have very little wrong, at the same time it is very easy to see why they haven't connected with everybody.
Perfect 'The Florida Project' isn't. Some of the tonal shifts feel a bit forced and abrupt and, although the final act in general is emotionally intense, count me in as another person who was underwhelmed by the ending, which for my liking felt tacked on, tonally jarring and strains credulity too much.
On the other hand, 'The Florida Project' has a lot to like. While not as visually unique as 'Tangerine', it's a good-looking film that manages to make a less than attractive setting actually visually appealing somehow. Like with 'Starlet', while it may take some getting used to for some, the sunny and slightly bleached colours and slightly (but deliberately so) off-kilter but very naturalistic filming (that's very evocative and not amateurish like it can be easily mistaken as) was very striking. Appreciated the subtlety of the music, instead of having constant bombast which would have been wrong here.
Like 'Starlet' and 'Tangerine', the writing shines once again. Standouts include the ominous tension between the child and adult worlds and the emotional intensity of the final act, that would have resonated even more if having the very ending scene in keeping with the rest of the film. There is a healthy balance of amusing humour, joyous wonder, charming warmth, understated sweetness and touching drama. The story likewise, it really made me feel warm inside, it made me laugh, it surprised me, it charmed me and it moved me.
Baker continues to grow as a director, building even more upon the rich texture and intimate detail seen in particularly 'Tangerine' (both there in 'Starlet', but felt deeper with each succeeding film).
Acting is uniformly good. Not just from the most well-known name Willem Dafoe giving perhaps his best performance in years, but also from Bria Vinaite giving a performance of searing intensity and especially an astoundingly mature beyond her years Brooklynn Prince who deserves to become a star after this. There is an improvisatory feel at points but this came over very naturally which is pretty incredible really because not everybody is comfortable with improvisation.
In summary, a very good film but, despite the positive critical reception, like Baker's previous films it will divide audiences (already has). 8/10 Bethany Cox
- Nov 13, 2017