A snapshot into the life of a six-year-old girl living on the breadline is poised to become one of this year’s most memorable and enchanting films
A budget motel in Orlando that accommodates people who can’t afford permanent housing, sitting in the shadows of Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park, is the unlikely location for one of 2017’s most vibrant and affecting films.
But The Florida Project weaves its charming magic. Set in the ironically titled Magic Castle motel, this candy-coloured film spends the summer with six-year-old Moonee – a precocious, defiant, whirlwind of a young girl. We watch Moonee as she and her carefree playmates, Jancey and Scooty, and her single mother, Halley, navigate day-to-day life.
It’s directed by Sean Baker, whose previous best-known work is 2015’s Tangerine about two transgender prostitutes, shot on an iPhone. And, as with that film, he paints, in vivid Technicolor, stories that aren’t typically shown on the big screen. He brings Moonee’s childhood alive even though her living situation might be grim, showing the joy in spitting competitions and sharing an ice cream bought with money scammed from tourists.
With the exception of Willem Dafoe – brilliant as Bobby, the manager of the motel and de facto father figure – the cast is made up of unknowns. First-time actress Bria Vinaite – who Baker discovered on Instagram – is astonishing as Halley, a brash and complex 22-year-old struggling to pay the rent, hustling for cash and treating her daughter almost like a sister. But it’s Brooklynn Prince as Moonee who is the revelation; expressive but never saccharine, she is magnetic, pulling the audience into her world.
Heartbreaking and life-affirming, fantastical and realistic, this is a slice of life that will cling to you.
The Florida Project hits UK screens on 10 November, but you can watch the film first at our free preview screenings on Monday 30 October, see details below.
To see The Florida Project before anyone else, get your tickets to Stylist Film Club’s free screenings.
Date: Monday 30 October at 6.30pm
Venues: Birmingham, Edinburgh Omni Centre, Gateshead, Glasgow, Islington, Leeds Light, Manchester Printworks and Piccadilly Circus.
Get your tickets by heading to seeitfirst.com and entering the code 74VCMU