“The Florida Project” is written and directed by Sean Baker and stars Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe, and Valeria Cotto. The film is about a mother and her six-year-old daughter, and the summer they share while causing mischief and living on the brink of eviction.
I was very excited to see this movie, mainly due to the increasing amount of buzz it has been getting from critics and people alike. The premise looked promising, the trailer looked gorgeous, and I was hoping to get the same level of excitement that everyone else who saw this movie was getting.
Seven-year-old Brooklynn Prince is a future star. Prince is the best part of every single scene in this film, and I haven’t seen someone so young dominate the screen so much and with such impressive acting since Jacob Tremblay in “Room.” Prince is exceptional in this movie and brings an incredible amount of emotion and honesty to such a crucial role.
Willem Defoe is also great in his supporting role, and, while he never does anything that one would call exceptional, he is tremendous in every scene, and has terrific chemistry with the rest of the cast. Bria Vinaite is also great as Prince’s mother, and, while I wish her character went through more change from start to finish, she gives a great performance, especially when paired with Prince.
Sean Baker continues to prove himself as one of the best young directors out there, as “The Florida Project” is beautifully well-crafted and has some of the most original direction all year. The way this storyline is created, as well as the characters Baker decides to shine a light on, is completely unique, and I found the film brilliantly refreshing.
The camera work and the color palette used is stunning to view, with the bright colors consistently popping off the screen and creating a beautiful sunny tone to even the darkest of moments. The editing is also very well done, as there are consistently these sudden cuts that, while sometimes a bit jarring, did make for a movie that constantly was moving.
The pacing of the movie isn’t perfect, but there are a handful of moments that hit emotionally, and they are each expertly executed by Baker and his cast. Prince is usually the scene-stealer, but it really is Baker who is able to nail down the human element so effectively, and telling a down-to-Earth story so well from start to finish.
There are gaps of time in this movie that feel overly long and dry, and most of these scenes are when the kids are going around doing shenanigans. I did enjoy these scenes, and they are beautifully shot, but they felt repetitive, and, on occasion, felt as if they didn’t add much of anything to the story or the characters.
As I said before, I think Vinaite gives a great performance, but I think there is some real wasted potential with how her character develops. I get that Baker is making a real-life story, and I respect that, but I do think there’s potential to make her character more dynamic and more interesting than the clichés she eventually falls into.
I don’t like the ending two minutes or so, without spoiling, as, while I understand what they were going for, it felt a bit cheesy, and it didn’t seem to fit the rest of the movie much at all.
“The Florida Project” is beautifully directed and feels very grounded in reality, and I love how it shines a light on characters that we don’t usually see in a film. Brooklynn Prince is beyond exceptional, and the emotion and heart are most certainly there, but I couldn’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed in comparison to the massive praise this movie is receiving. Still, “The Florida Project” is a very well-made movie and one that feels totally unique.
What did you think of “The Florida Project”? Comment below with your thoughts.