My rating IMDb Rotten Tomatoes
Critics Audience Critics Audience
9/10 92/100 8.1/10 94% 76%
Anyone who has been to Walt Disney World in Orlando probably has seen the budget motels in the highway leading up to the Resort. I personally have passed by these motels and never paid too much attention to them.
Little did I know that their guests aren’t regular hotel guests who check-in only for a few days. Many of them actually live there thanks to some hotel managers who allow their extended stays.
The Florida Project, written and directed by Sean Baker, shows this reality and the day-to-day struggles and routine of the hotel’s residents just outside one of the happiest places on Earth, made to enchant both children and adults.
We meet Moonee (newcomer Brooklynn Prince), a 6-year-old who spends her days playing with other children around the motels. She goes anywhere along the highway, completely unsupervised and oblivious of the danger of that lifestyle, while having the time of her life during one summer. Her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) doesn’t do anything to stop that behavior. On the contrary: she encourages Moonee to do whatever she wants and even asks the child to get free food at a restaurant nearby.
Their living at the motel is only possible because of a sympathetic manager (Willem Dafoe), who tries to accommodate the residents while having to keep the motel running for regular tourists, despite not having many of those lately.
It could be a documentary, since Sean Baker actually studied the lives of people living in motels like that, but The Florida Project gives the audience the feeling that it’s almost like a reality show: we feel so close to the characters, seeing them in their raw and vulnerable moments, and we witness Moonee’s childhood in such a way that one can’t help but hope that her life will get better.
It is a punch in the stomach for anyone who thinks there aren’t people living in these conditions in Florida. Sadly, this topic is not in the news often, so it’s easy to think that their realities are only an exception.
The Florida Project ends with a scene that will touch everyone, especially those who have been to Disney World and understand how powerful that experience can be to a child, even if that child only dreams of being there.