The Florida Project

Writer-director Sean Baker (Starlet, Tangerine) takes a sympathetic look at a couple of motels in Orlando that serve as home for a variety of working-poor individuals. The film unfolds mainly from the perspective of a six-year-old girl, whose single, twentysomething mother supports herself and the child through prostitution and scamming tourists; Baker also broadens his focus occasionally to consider the activities of their motel manager (Willem Dafoe), a paternal figure to both mother and daughter. The subject matter may be sordid and sad, but the tone is generally upbeat, reflecting the little girl’s cheery, naive outlook. This also conveys with remarkable vividness a small child’s sense of time: Baker places no dramatic emphasis on any individual scene, granting a sense of wide-eyed wonder to major and minor events alike.