Review: The Florida Project

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Source: A24

Some of cinema’s greatest stories encapsulate a rift between the hopeful and the hopeless, often projecting a fairy-tale like movement of characters becoming rejuvenated and moving from rags to riches. ‘The Florida Project’ is a nuanced, socially responsible and deep, yet also accessible, realisation of this, noting a real contrast between uncontrolled freedom and childhood, and social stigmas and poorly chosen pathways. The director crafts a setting that breathes with an amusing energy, an ironic juxtaposition to the situation many of its inhabitants find themselves in. He also elicits powerful performances from the child actors, maintaining a constant vibrancy and youthfulness but also a sense of them beginning to understand the reality of their lives. Seeing that transitional arc develop, as the children recognise their place is emotionally astonishing. Willem Dafoe’s character exists in a middle zone, tapped between the hopeful and hopeless, attempting to assert his authority but unable to remain neutral. Dafoe’s performance is extraordinary as the care his character shows his motel’s patrons is framed by his understanding that he cannot help them escape the cycle of poverty they are in. The film’s abstract, meandering, insightful tone does work for the most part, but by the third act it does become repetitive and a secondary story could have been infused. Ultimately, though, ‘The Florida Project’ shines as a glimpse into division between child and adult, while also remaining respectful of the lives it is symbolising. 4/5

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