The star THE FLORIDA PROJECT is six year old Brooklynn Prince.
It’s her first feature film role and she’s already an amazing actress. Plus, the movie itself is one of the best films I’ve seen all year.
Prince plays Moonee, a precocious little girl who lives in a garish, budget hotel near Disney World with her very young mother who can’t hold a job and has almost no money.
Moonee is cute, sassy, mischievous and always looking for fun.
Mooney: The man who lives in here gets arrested a lot. The woman who lives in here thinks she’s married to Jesus. These are the rooms we’re not supposed to go in, but let’s go anyway.
She and her friends are more than a handful for the hotel manager, Bobby, well played by Willem Defoe.
Bobby: Halley, we got a situation here. Open up. It’s only the second week of the summer and there’s already been a dead fish in the pool.
Moonee: We were trying to get it back alive.
Bobby: Water balloons thrown at tourists.
Halley: I’ve failed as a mother, Moonie.
Moonee: Mom, you’re a disgrace.
Bria Vinaite, another first time actress, plays Halley, who’s more like an irresponsible older sister than a mother to Moonee.
Bobby tries to convince her she has to do better.
Bobby: New job?
Bobby: If you’re working, who’s looking after Moonee?
Halley: You’re not my father!
Bobby: I don’t want to be your father.
Halley: You can’t treat me like this.
The antics of the kids are endearing.
Moonee (to a tourist): Can you give us some change, please? The doctor said we have asthma and we gotta eat ice cream right away.
Tourist: Here you go.
As we watch the kids run wild…
Moonie to her friend in a cow pasture: Moo! See I took you on a safari.
we smile, but we also fear for them because the poverty they live in is sobering and Halley is becoming increasingly desperate.
Neighbor: You don’t think everybody knows what’s up, Halley? Everybody!
Mooney (watching her mother): She’s about to cry. I can always tell when adults are about to cry.
Bobby: Just talkin’; they gotta figure something out.
THE FLORIDA PROJECT is something special: a creative, honest look at some resilient children who make the most of their shabby circumstances but have little hope for a brighter future.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org