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'The Florida Project' TIFF 2017 Review: Hope comes in all forms

September 7, 2017Justin Waldman

From co-writer/director Sean Baker (Tangerine) comes his newest film, The Florida Project, which chronicles the trials and tribulations of a ragtag group of characters who call the Magic Castle — a budget motel on the outskirts of Disney World — home.

Not to be confused with the Magic Kingdom, the Magic Castle provides a stark dose of American reality where we find our protagonists. Among them, there's a pair of 6-year-old mischief-makers named Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and Jancey (Valeria Cotto), Moonee's 22-year-old mom, Halley (Bria Vinaite), who struggles to keep her daughter out of trouble and to keep a roof over their heads, and Bobby (Willem Dafoe), the motel's kindhearted manager, who tries his best to help out where he can, but isn’t willing to make too many special accommodations.

Interweaving the lives of these characters into the film's gritty yet tender narrative, Baker delivers a worthy spiritual successor to Tangerine. But nonetheless, the heart and soul of The Florida Project lies with its performances. Thankfully, this ensemble cast is just as outstanding as Baker's ambitions for the movie.

The Florida Project is receiving its North American premiere as part of TIFF 2017's Special Presentations programme. Its runtime is 1 hr. 55 min.

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