Taglines: Find Your Kingdom.
In the shadow of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, the Magic Castle–a garishly painted rundown motel crammed with the imperceptible homeless who can’t afford a proper accommodation–is the unenchanting world the struggling ex-stripper single mother, Halley, and her fearless six-year-old daughter, Moonee, call home.
But for the mischievous Moonee and her riotous gang of best friends, this place is also a magical playground of endless adventure and a blissful Utopia nestled inside innocence’s protective bubble; nevertheless, the illusion of a carefree life comes at a high price, as young Halley takes increasingly greater risks to make ends meet. Over the course of a single summer, childhood’s wide-eyed moments of wonder together with the reckless transgressions of youth and an inevitable ugly confrontation will attempt to blemish the mother-and-daughter idyll. However, do shadows exist in the realm of fantasy?
The Florida Project is a 2017 American drama film directed by Sean Baker and written by Baker and Chris Bergoch. It stars Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Valeria Cotto, Christopher Rivera, and Caleb Landry Jones. The plot follows a six-year-old girl living in a motel with her rebellious mother in Greater Orlando as they try to stay out of trouble and make ends meet. The title is derived from the early name for Walt Disney World, located near the setting of the film.
The Florida Project premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, and was theatrically released in the United States on October 6, 2017, by A24. It was praised for its performances (particularly that of Dafoe) and Baker’s direction, and was chosen by both the National Board of Review and American Film Institute as one of the top 10 films of the year. Dafoe earned Best Supporting Actor nominations at the Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards.
About the Story
Six-year-old Moonee lives with her young mother Halley in the Magic Castle, a motel in Kissimmee, Florida near Walt Disney World. She spends most of her summer days unsupervised with her motel-resident friends Scooty and Dicky, engaging in mischief, mooching from tourists, stealing, and other misbehavior. They invite Jancey, a new child living at the Futureland motel next door, to play with them. Following an incident, Dicky’s father restricts him from joining them, and the family relocates to New Orleans, which upsets the group. Bobby, the manager of Magic Castle, is protective of the children.
Halley, struggling to pay rent, hawks perfume to tourists in hotel parking lots and asks Scooty’s mother, Ashley, to steal food for them from the diner where she works. However, Ashley cuts contact after discovering Moonee, Scooty, and Jancey accidentally set an abandoned condominium on fire.
Halley begins offering her services online as a prostitute, closing Moonee in the bathroom when she has a client. Bobby notices the activity and applies restrictions on unregistered guests in her motel room. When she steals a client’s Disney resort passes to sell them, the man returns to demand them back; Bobby sees him off but warns Halley that he will evict her if the prostitution continues.
Desperate, Halley approaches Ashley to apologize and ask for money. When Ashley mocks her for her prostitution, Halley beats her in front of Scooty. The next day, Child Protective Services (CPS) arrive to investigate Halley. She cleans up the room and gives away her drugs, but remains defiant. She takes Moonee to a resort hotel restaurant, where they charge the meal to a guest room. When they return to the motel, CPS and the police are waiting to take Moonee into foster care pending investigation. Moonee runs away to find Jancey, and together they run away to the Magic Kingdom
The Florida Project (2017)
Directed by: Sean Baker
Starring: Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe, Christopher Rivera, Aiden Malik, Valeria Cotto, Edward Pagan, Mela Murder, Krystal Nicole Watts, Bronwyn Valley, Kelly Fitzgerald, Sandy Kane
Screenplay by: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Production Design by: Stephonik Youth
Cinematography by: Alexis Zabe
Film Editing by: Sean Baker
Costume Design by: Alexis Zabe
Set Decoration by: Kurt Thoresen
Music by: Lorne Balfe
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, disturbing behavior, sexual references and some drug material.
Distributed by: A24 Films
Release Date: October 6, 2017