Review of THE FLORIDA PROJECT Rated R – 1 hr. 51 mins.

florida

THE FLORIDA PROJECT – Rated R – 1 hr. 51 mins. 

Starring Willem Defoe, Brooklyn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Valeria Cotto and Christopher Rivera 

As we venture into the world of an absolutely adorable, yet very precocious 6-yr-old named Moonee (Brooklynn Prince), we find that her life just on the outskirts of Disney World is filled with fun, but not what you would say is truly magical

Living in a hotel with her sometimes attentive, yet rather aloof mother Halley (Bria Vinaite), and her very close and very mischievous friends Scooty (Christopher Rivera) and Jancey (Valeria Cotto), Moonee seems to make each day pass right along, as her and her buddies wonder aimlessly panhandling for money to buy ice cream, or being adventurous through the swamps close by…

While Moonee’s mother is trying to scrape by making money any way she can, Scooty’s mom is hard at work too, leaving them to fend for themselves pretty much ALL DAY, as it’s summer, and school is not in session…

Lucky for these little hellions, the Manager of the Hotel, Bobby (Willem Dafoe), has a good heart, as he tries to keep track of the three of them, as they’re mischief , even when it periodically gets out of hand.

When Halley and Scooty’s mom have a falling out over an arson incident that takes place close by  ~ Moonee and Janey must try to make the most of the rest of their Summer, without Scooty by their sides…

With Bobby doing the best he can to keep the girls occupied and safe, it seems that Child Protection services has been called on Halley, leaving her with no other option than to explain how well, or not, she takes care of her child…

Not wanting to leave her home at the Magic Palace, her mom, or Bobby for that matter…Moonee does what any 6 year old might do when she finds herself in crisis…grab her best friend…and run away…

I give THE FLORIDA PROJECT a rating of WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON DVD or NETFLIX – Even though young Brooklyn Prince gives an absolutely engaging and heart-warming performance ~ she may even be up for award nominations this year, she is that GOOD ~! But the concept and storyline of this film is definitely not a ‘pick me up”, as it prophetically explains how some people are forced to live, and try to survive, just miles from the “ultimate world of excess”.  I did enjoy the small, and important for the storyline performance by Defoe, and Vinaite’s performance wasn’t half-bad either as Moonee’s mother, but I just couldn’t get beyond the sick feeling I had the whole way through, that something was going to happen to these unsupervised children, without anyone having a clue. I also felt that the cinematography of this quaint little film was subpar as well.  Plus, having worked for Radio Disney for quite a few years throughout my career, I know that the ending of this film was never, ever approved by “the powers that be” of Disney, adding another bone of contention as I watched it all unfold on the big screen.  THE FLORIDA PROJECT is one of those films that is slightly entertaining, slightly intriguing, but at times feels a little messy…leaving me to suggest that you wait and view this particular film, when it hits in a few weeks on DVD or NETFLIX!!!

Kathy Kaiser