The Florida Project

The Florida Project

I went to a free screening of The Florida Project on 30th October.

I went with low expectations.  It was free and something to do on a Monday night.

It starts with several scenes of screeching, screaming kids enjoying the freedom of the summer holidays.  They live on a motel complex and pass the time having spitting contests and partaking in other general mischief.

The story initially unfolds from the kids’ perspective, as the film develops there is a merged outlook as the adult narratives come to the fore.

Essentially it is a story of everydayness, of getting by and surviving.  Monee the 6 year old, who goes out to play from daybreak to dusk like it’s the 1970s, lives with her young adult mother in a motel room in a hand to mouth existence.  They sell counterfeit perfume to guests at the plush hotel over the freeway, they occasionally have free breakfasts there by pretending that they are guests and they just about make rent every week.

We don’t know how they came to be living there but we do know there has historically been contact with social services.

All the roles bar one are played by non-actors.  Wilhem Dafoe, the only professional actor, plays the avuncular figure trying to take care of everyone; shooing a suspected pedophile on his way, and trying to save Monee’s mother from herself and her child.

The mother – clearly cares about her child but is quick to anger and is impulsive.  She beats up a former friend and that sets in motion a serious of events that ends with social services coming to take her daughter into temporary care.  She is an unsympathetic character which is juxtaposed with the quality of her doing anything to make money to look after her child even if that means selling her body.

Cinematographically the scenes showing Monee in the bath were the most intriguing.  We were shown scenes of the 6 year old in the bath time and time again.  And frankly it felt uncomfortable.  It was only later that I made the connection that every time Monee was in the bath her mother was selling sex or sexual favours.

It’s a well-made film.  Sometimes you are aware of the non-actors over acting or over reacting to a direction.  Overall its solid but not a film I’d recommend.


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