The Florida Project Shines a Light on the Marginalized

February 5, 2018 | Written by Alexandra Hurlburt

As a medium, film has the unique capability to take us into the lives of these people for a few hours, and that is one of the reasons why Sean Baker’s film “The Florida Project” is such an important piece of work.

“The Florida Project” is the newest film from Baker, known best for directing the 2015 film “Tangerine.” The movie explores the lives of a group of underprivileged people in Orlando, Florida. Baker depicts the lives of these people, and the area itself, through the eyes of Moonee, a young girl with an adventurous spirit and a foul mouth. Moonee is an ordinary child – she loves to run around and play with her friends, eat ice cream and explore her neighborhood. It is through Moonee that we come in contact with others in the city, and learn the depths of life for those living there. Baker uses the film’s location, located practically on the other side of a wall from Disney, and its characters in order to explore themes such as childhood, poverty, disparity and violence. He creates a small world inside of our much bigger one, showing empathy and beauty.


Photo Courtesy of A24

What makes “The Florida Project” shine are the performances by both Willem Dafoe, who plays Bobby, and Brooklynn Prince, who plays Moonee. Dafoe oozes with humility and grace in every scene of the film. He gives a rare performance that feels genuine, natural, and effortless. Prince also delivers, especially for her age. At only seven years old, she plays a complex character who is strong, innocent and heartbreaking.


The cinematography of “The Florida Project” is another one of the film’s greatest feats. The movie highlights the scenery of Orlando – from the palm trees to the pastel colored sky. Each shot frames the characters in very precise ways, choosing to either make them incredibly small in scale to the world around them, or focusing on them, allowing them to consume the entire shot. 

The Magic Castle is the primary location the characters inhabit throughout the duration of the film. It’s a hotel in Orlando that has become an apartment building for low-income peoples in the area. There is an entire socioeconomic group that lives and survives inside of places like the Magic Castle, a group largely ignored and misunderstood by others.“The Florida Project” is a film that is incredibly important to watch. The technical aspects of the film in conjunction with its narrative and characters create a picture of childhood, growing up and adulthood on screen. highlighting just how necessary it is to be aware of those around you, act with empathy and live with thankfulness.