“… I refuse to let one bad apple spoil the bunch.”
Last night I finally got around to watching The Florida Project and let me just say: I get it. Every ounce of praise that this movie got was not only justified, but also not enough. The Florida Project is a just shy of a masterpiece in my opinion, and watching it was completely my pleasure. To explain the plot of the movie would be a little difficult seeing as it is a ‘slice of life’ film. This time around the group that is focused on is the underprivileged families living in motels in Florida.
What pulled me into The Florida Project was just how real this movie is. I know I’ve said it before, but it legitimately feels like this movie wasn’t rehearsed. It honestly plays out more like a documentary than drama; and even the more recognizable faces like Willem Dafoe disappear into their roles. I would absolutely love to sit here and rave about how every aspect of this movie is flawless, but unfortunately I can’t. The Florida Project did such a good job of immersing me into the story I completely disregarded any music, standout performances, or amazing shots. I do remember thinking the camerawork was great before the movie had its grips on me, but to give you a specific example would be beyond my capacity.
One thing I do unfortunately remember about The Florida Project is what exactly holds it back from being a masterpiece: the ending. The last two minutes of this movie completely ruin anything that the film had going for it, and I still struggle to see why they were included in the first place. What we have at the end of the movie is a very emotional scene between the main character, Moonee, and her best friend. This would have been a very poignant way to end the film, and I was ready to have that sit with me like a hole in my heart for days to come; but then it gets ruined. The filmmaker, Sean Baker (that’s right, I’m calling you out!), decided to, instead of ending the film on a great emotional moment, throw in a weird montage that takes the audience out the movie instantly and completely. I have nothing against montages themselves, but if you’re using one you better make damn well sure that it fits. The ending of The Florida Project had: jarring music, unbearable camera-shake (obviously filmed on a small camera or a cell phone), and was colour-graded completely differently from the rest of the movie. Nothing about it fit. And do you know why it had all of these problems? Because this motherfucker wanted to film in Disney World. It wasn’t enough for the audience to know that your movie takes place right next to Disney World, you had to take a fucking guerrilla camera crew to show us the inside of Disney World. Guess what Sean? We can see the inside of Disney World whenever we want. There’s this thing called the internet, and the footage of Disney World on there is about ten times more competent than anything you shot on that (I assume) stressful day. I’m not saying that Sean did this to capitalize in the Disney brand, the footage was so shitty if anything it just hurt their image, but I assume that he felt the movie needed a period. It needed a definitive ending that would stick with audiences long after they left the theatre.
Well Sean, you fucked that one up.
Despite how much I hate the ending of this movie, I refuse to let one bad apple spoil the bunch. Just throw out the bad apple, dummy. The rest of The Florida Project is legitimately enchanting in an oddly tragic way. It manages to capture this subset of life so realistically that you forget you’re even watching a movie. It’s perfection. Or at least as close as you can get.
I give The Florida Project an A