The Films of Sean Baker
Four Letter Words
Prince of Broadway
The Florida Project (March 3/18)
An astonishingly inept and tedious picture, The Florida Project details the meandering day-to-day exploits of several residents of a low-rent motel on the outskirts of Walt Disney World in Orlando - with the movie primarily following a young girl (Brooklynn Prince's Moonee) as she and her mother (Bria Vinaite's Halley) attempt to scrape by on exceedingly little money. Filmmaker Sean Baker establishes The Florida Project's persistently second-rate atmosphere right from the get-go, as Baker, working from a script cowritten with Chris Bergoch, establishes a small handful of almost uniformly reprehensible characters and asks the viewer to sympathize with their uneventful antics - with the growing emphasis on Prince and Vinaite's respective figures only exacerbating the film's hands-off feel. It's all just so aimless; Baker spends an inordinate amount of time focused on the aggressively uninteresting comings and goings of these obnoxious adults and bratty kids, with the movie's thoroughly episodic structure paving the way for an often interminable midsection that's entirely devoid of momentum. It's ultimately only Willem Dafoe's typically magnetic turn as the motel's long-suffering manager that stands as The Florida Project's sole positive attribute, as the actor manages to overcome Baker's surface-level approach to create a warm, compassionate character. (It's certainly not surprising to note that the film's few watchable sequences feature Dafoe's Bobby, including an amusing interlude in which the protagonist removes a possible child molester from the premises.) By the time the incongruously uplifting conclusion rolls around, The Florida Project has undoubtedly confirmed its place as a misbegotten endeavor that's as pointless as it is infuriating.