The Film (4.5/5)
The Florida Project is the latest film by Tangerine's Sean Baker. The film follows a group of struggling people in Orlando, Florida who live in a pair of cheap budget hotels, but specifically the bright purple Magic Castle. The hotel taking it's name because of its close proximity to Disney World's so-called "Magic Kingdom", which of course, this movie would be the furthest thing from.
The Florida Project specifically centers around the lives of Halley and Moonee, a Mother and daughter trying to get through one summer while living at the Magic Castle. Halley has long been out of work, and has been trying to find a job, and is doing what she can for money. Moonee is living the life of a child, experiencing the dark throws of the adults in her life, but at the same time, maintaining an adventurous and free outlook, while playing with her group of friends.
The film has a very unique quality shot in a style that has a tragic dramatic realism to it, yet when seeing the film through Moonee's young eyes still depicts a certain magical childhood freedom. In many ways a viewer could view this as an intersection between something like an early Larry Clark film such as Bully with Francois Truffaut's Les Mistons or 400 Blows. The film has a certain charm mixed with an adult’s view of childhood to it that could easily find itself likened to the earlier French director, but the stark brutality of early Clark.
However, beneath the film's humid-laden exterior The Florida project is grounded by a series of pitch-perfect performances. Willem Dafoe obviously got the Oscar nod for this film, but whole cast from the young Brooklynn Prince to newcomer Bria Vinaite are spectacular, and help lend a sense of dramatic heft to their roles, but also make each of their characters feel truly lived in.
Lionsgate presents the Florida Project in a splendid 2:38:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. Going from Tangerine where he shot the feature on an iPhone to shooting on film, we have a very nice and detailed transfer, organically grainy with some possibly intentional scratches and damage present. Colors are bright and pop, detail is excellent, and blacks are inky and deep.
Audio is handled with a DTS-HD MA track in English. Everything looks and sounds fine here, and I had no issues.
Not much here, a small behind the scenes doc, some cast and crew interviews, and a trailer. I would have actually appreciated a director's commentary especially to cover the ending of the film.
The Florida Project is a pretty interesting experience that has magical moments of childhood, transposed in a stark, dark, and realistic world. The Blu-ray looks and sounds excellent, but has limited extras. RECOMMENDED