Beneath a frozen pond, fish swim slowly, their image distorted through the ice. In a seemingly infinite swimming pool, a young woman pounds against the floor tiles, seeking escape. A glass of milk goes mottled with red as blood drips into its center.
Author: Tessa Brook Bahoosh
Long a fan of director Sean Baker, the existence of The Florida Project took me by surprise. I wasn’t surprised to love it, or to find it exquisitely intimate and compassionate, but it is a true mental shift to accept we live in a world in which Sean Baker films have a budget. Baker has spent most of his career making films on a shoestring, which he then manages to pull a mile. In terms of making the absolute most of what he has been given, The Florida Project is no exception. It’s a beautiful film that deals in contradictions: quiet and loud, brassy and sensitive, painful and lovely to watch. Baker is already well practiced in toeing the line between drama and comedy, as demonstrated through his previous films, particularly 2015’s Tangerine. Instead of erecting humor and melancholy as two separate poles which one may oscillate between, Baker finds the comedic within the dramatic, compromising neither. Thus, he provides a unique illustration of how films can engage with overlapping emotions that are conventionally considered contradictory, and ultimately produce deeply resonant and truthful stories.