The Florida Project. 2017. USA. Directed by Sean Baker. DCP. 115 min.
Few visitors to Disney’s Magic Kingdom ever notice the parallel universe of cheap motels lined up along the adjacent highways, where struggling families live week by week. Breakout star Brooklynn Prince plays six-year-old firecracker Moonee, who runs wild with her fellow little rascals to turn the shabby neighboring area into their own private theme park, oblivious to the dark secrets unfolding in the adult world. Willem Dafoe, in an exceptionally nuanced performance, plays the motel manager who gets tough on the troublemakers but is quietly looking out for their well-being. 35mm film renders a visually wondrous world seen through the eyes of the youngsters. This bittersweet film warms and breaks hearts all at once. In the end, the magic belongs to the children and the human spirit of survival. Courtesy of A24 Films.