Sitting through this film was like passing by what you know is going to be the scene of a very bad car accident. As as you roll by and look to your right, you don’t want to look because you know what you might see. You look anyway, because this is life, a possible pathway, perhaps the end of someone’s life and in the back of your mind, you wonder if this might happen to you one day and this scares you, but you keep looking anyway. “There but for the grace of God go I”.
This film plays more like a documentary than a movie and has only one named celebrity as the star, William Defoe who plays the manager of this run down Motel in Florida, ironically named “The Magic Castle Motel”. For 38 dollars a night you can live almost like a caged animal in one room squalor surrounded by lavender and pink paint. The tenants of this massive hell hole are who you would expect; poor people down on their luck, but what you would never expect are happy, dancing and running young children who are oblivious to their reality and are not yet old enough to realize that they have no chance. No future. No hope. No way out. These young children have to go along for the ride only because of who their parents are. For me the happy oblivious young children in this story were ultimately the most depressing part because they just don’t understand about money and what its like to be on the outer fringe of homelessness. As an adult your brain has to rationalize a life like this somehow, because if you can’t, you die. But when you’re a child you are just a child and you don’t know anything other than your bleak existence. In the eyes of a child, a horrendous life like this is normal for you because you just don’t know anything else. For me, this was the saddest part of this story.
This movie has remarkable acting and the best actor of them all is 6-year-old Brooklynn Prince, who plays Moonie and is the only child of her single mother, played by Bria Vinaite, a drug addict hooker and complete disaster of a human being who was stupid enough to give birth to and then keep a child. So many scenes in this movie are very hard to watch, because you know that there are real people like this in this country who live lives like this and like passing a car accident, this is something that none of us want to think about or ever see.
This low-budget movie has received many high reviews on both IMDB and Rottentomatoes and I agree with these high ratings as this movie while being quite depressing is also and outstanding depiction of the harsh reality of being poor in this country. The Florida Project gets my highest recommendation.