If there is any movie I’m rooting for this season it’s Sean Baker‘s stunning emotional roller coaster “The Florida Project.” Set in contemporary Orlando, the drama follows a young girl, Moonee (Brooklynn Kimberly Prince), as she spends her summer having fun with her friends in the Florida sun (or those late afternoon rain showers). Sounds like the story of almost any girl anywhere, right? The difference with Moonee is that her home is an extended stay motel where many families try to avoid living on the streets paying for a roof over their heads on a week to week basis. Moonee’s mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) can barely make ends meet, but her daughter has never known anything different. The motel, its picnic tables and its only rough around the edges manager (Willem Dafoe) is the only life she’s ever known.
Baker spent years crafting this screenplay with his co-screenwriter Chris Bergoch (they actually began working on it before 2015’s “Tangerine” began production) and the final result is a film that is more timely in today’s political environment than either filmmaker could have envisioned.
During our chat Baker and I discussed how one of his love for the 1920-1940’s serial “The Little Rascals” inspires all his work, an in-depth breakdown of directing Prince in the scene that steals the movie (although no spoilers are involved) and much more.
A potential Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay nominee, among other categories, “The Florida Project” opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles.
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