- DON'T WANT TO GROW UP Three mischievous kids find adventure in Sean Baker’s ‘The Florida Project’
Sean Baker's The Florida Project is bursting with fun, squalor and tragedy. It's shaggy, with what looks like rough-cut editing at times, and it's seemingly been released under its working title. His subject is the adventures of a passel of kids in Kissimmee, not so far from the expensive gates of Disney World, a minimum-wage, subtropical holiday land. Baker positively blasts the screen with color, with Florida sunsets flamboyant enough to dement a parrot. Consultants from Technicolor worked on this, and it shows. Baker's last film, Tangerine, was shot on a cellphone; the visuals here are more than payback for the limits of that kind of photography.
The Florida Project repays a big-screen viewing to see the low angle shots of berserk vernacular buildings. Giant oranges, frozen custard stands, a wizard's 30-foot-tall head emerging from a warehouse full of Disney knockoffs—these images revive the feeling of being a kid.
Moonee (Brooklynn Prince), age six or so, is a long-term tenant with her mother in the grape-sherbet-colored Magic Castle Motel. It's an adventure exploring the roadside attraction highway lands, or running around with her new pal from downstairs. Everything is exciting: the sightseeing helicopters close enough to buzz the motel, the swamp nearby with the shopping cart sticking out of it, or the fluorescent-colored plastic goodies cramming the aisles in a 99-cent store.
The focus is on the kids, as in a crane shot of Moonee and the little terrorists she hangs with running through the balconies. They're Jancey (Valeria Cotto) and the third-grad boy Scooty (Christopher Rivera), a chronic mischief-maker who tries to play it urbane.
Those who were raised in a bit of squalor themselves can agree that Baker has perfectly depicted the highs and lows of being a running-wild kid. It's all fun and games until someone calls Social Services.
'The Florida Project' is in limited release.