In Sean Baker’s new film, The Florida Project, life just outside Disney World—“The Happiest Place on Earth”—is not so happy. Six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Kimberly Prince) lives in an extended-stay motel near the park with her rebellious mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite), and spends her summer days wandering around the neighborhood causing mostly innocent trouble with her friends. Willem Dafoe—in a powerfully restrained performance—plays the motel manager who looks out for his wayward tenants, despite his steely exterior. In his previous films (notably 2015’s Tangerine), Baker has proved his empathy for his characters, and The Florida Project is no exception. The film perfectly captures the feeling of being stuck in a place where the promise of happiness is so tantalizingly close, yet just out of a reach.
THE FLORIDA PROJECT IS OUT IN THEATERS OCTOBER 6, 2017.