The Florida Project (15) Review

Helena Buchanan reviews The Florida Project, Willem Dafoe's second film of the month

Helena Buchanan
20th November 2017
Image: YouTube

This film is what sparked the ‘Never Grow Up’ season at the Tyneside Cinema, so in line with my love of the line-up (The Goonies/ ET/ Stand By Me) I had high hopes for The Florida Project. Hopes which were amply and perfectly met.

The plot follows the life of the naughty daughter of a young, unemployed mother. The heat of Summer in Florida is tangible, as is the expanses of Moonie (the daughter’s) imagination. The cheeky, if wildly inappropriate language of Moonie and her mother is hilarious, then jarring and slightly worrying. The care taken by the Motel manager is heart-warming, then heart-wrenching.

This is a film of dichotomies, where the situation the pair are in rapidly depletes, yet their attitudes lift the film out of darkness or dreariness. This film is strangely optimistic, in the face of a mountain of hard times. Haley’s (the mother) bitchy, entitled, ungrateful nature makes her, at points, hateful, and you wonder what she can possibly care about. And you wonder why you care about her.

This is a girl and a woman who want to play, who want to get away with things, and who take things too far. It seems they cannot escape the consequences of their actions, and yet they cannot cease making terrible decisions in the pursuit of fun, or ease.

The film is punctuated by the departures of planes and helicopters from across the river, and while Hayley and Moonie are progressively abandoned by friends they pushed too far, you wonder when the film will turn, when they will give up, when they will let go of their zest for life on the fringes of society which has rejected them, or they it.

This film left me aching. Not sure whether the end was happy. Not sure where they would end up. But sure that I loved them.

Rating: 5/5

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