AndersonVision Best Films of 2017: #3 – THE FLORIDA PROJECT (A24)
THE FLORIDA PROJECT REVIEWED
“The Florida Project” is one of my favorite films of 2017. As someone who spent most of their college years having to study the literature of the 19th and early 20th century, following the lower class of society is second nature. Whether it’s Hugo, Steinbeck or their ilk…there has been no end of creative looks about what it means to be poor in the Western world. What Sean Baker does in “The Florida Project” is highlight the rather sinister duality of financial depression in the shadow of Disney. Well, in the shadow of Disney World.
The hospitality industry gets kicked up a notch in towns where major tourist spots drive the economy. As such, a new class of workers that can do menial work are left in the wake of these hot spots. The film takes place in a dive motel that exists on the periphery of these major theme parks. Sporting a name that suggests a tie to the Magic Kingdom, it’s less of a motel and more of a home to the local workers. It’s also a makeshift daycare for the kids that survive on the fringe of society.
They are happy kids, but all they know of Florida is what exists in walking distance. Motel manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe) does his best to keep the motel functioning, but also finds himself having to protect these kids from nearby dangers. Local pedophiles cruise the motel parking lots, as their single parents barely can keep an eye on their kids. All the while, Bobby takes the abuse of everyone at the facility. Shot like a “day in the life”, the film powers through scenes of economic and social strife while the kids seem blissfully unaware of what’s going on.
Ultimately, the film ends as predicted. Kids, adults and everything in-between can’t survive in circumstances like this. When your life is spent surviving, there’s no room to grow. The inevitability of losing everything is so stark that the film can depress the sensitive. But, check it out. You need to understand the cost of being poor.
- 1 hr and 51 mins