starring Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Kimberly Prince, Bria Vinaite, Caleb Landry Jones
written by Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch
directed by Sean Baker
by Walter Chaw Sean Baker's The Florida Project follows the day-to-day of a group of five- or six-year-olds as they run wild through the broken-down streets, hot-sheet motels, and abandoned buildings that serve as the ramshackle spokes radiating out from Disney World in Orlando. Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) is the ringleader, impossibly exuberant and sly in exactly and only the way a six-year-old in full operational mode can be. She is a force of nature, and Prince's performance is entirely unaffected. It's a miracle. Moonee's best friends are Scooty (Christopher Rivera) and Jancey (Valeria Cotto), and they roam far afield, standing on picnic tables, exploring empty housing units, experimenting with lighters, and scamming ice-cream cones from marks more exhausted by their pitch ("I have asthma and my doctor said that I...") than convinced by it. I was free like this when I was 5. I grew up in downtown Golden, Colorado, which has as its main identifying feature a wooden sign stretching across its "main" street ("Washington") that says "Howdy Folks!" I used to catch flies and shine shoes in the barbershop on the corner. The barber was the mayor, Frank. I spent the pennies I earned at the 5 and 10 across the street. The Florida Project is about that.