Thursday, February 01, 2018

Is It Any Good?

I am sure that The Florida Project is a good movie. Objectively, if a film gets a ninety-six percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the opinion of the masses has been heard. I went to see it last weekend after months of hype on Al Gore's Internet and hearing from friends that it was the little movie that could. Willem Dafoe received an Oscar nomination for his work in the film, while critics and metacritics insisted that this one nod was a travesty and The Florida Project deserved so much more.

All of this information swirled in my head as I sat in my seat, watching the lives of these sad men, women and mostly children unspool before me. A pair of single mothers living in an Orlando motel, paying casual attention to their kids as the little ones busy themselves with the things that kids busy themselves with while not really on summer vacation, just down the street from the Happiest Place On Earth. The six year old girl whose adventures include going on a safari for cows and spitting on cars in the parking lot reminded me of the kids I see every day at work. These "outsiders" are the people with whom I deal most every day. Kids who are being parented in the most limited way and parents whose own lives don't allow them to transfer the wisdom we might expect to their offspring. What we used to call "home schooling" is lost on a little girl being brought up in a motel.

I suppose the cinema verité peek into these lives of desperation would prove a useful eye opener for those whose eyes had been closed or averted from this scene. Sadly, I know the story all too well, and when the inevitable end of the rainbow comes, it doesn't leave anyone happily ever after. Instead, the probability of prolonging this chain of sadness only increases. The chances for any real escape are purely cinematic. They are not found in the real world.

So, is The Florida Project a good movie? If you were to trust their press, it is "an exquisite heartbreaker." My visceral reaction suggests that they were successful in this way. The problem being that I showed up at the theater with my heart already broken. 

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