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WATCH: Comedy ‘The Florida Project’ tells heartwarming tale of growing up poor in US

/ 08:00 PM September 05, 2017

After clocking four nominations and a major award win with “Tangerine”, Sean Baker looks set for another success with childhood summer story “The Florida Project”.

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Brooklynn Prince could be this year’s Jacob Tremblay.

As the young star of “The Florida Project,” she’s been praised for her turn as six-year-old Moonee, who stays with her mom in a budget Orlando motel near the Walt Disney World Resort.

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In 2015, Tremblay turned heads in “Room” as the 5-year-old boy imprisoned along with his mother in a backyard shed.

His performance led to a slew of award circuit wins, including accolades from the National Board of Review and Satellite Awards, and a nomination from the prestigious Screen Actors Guild.

He’s since worked with Vera Farmiga in “Burn Your Maps”, Naomi Watts in “Shut In” and “The Book of Henry”, Xavier Dolan and Jessica Chastain in “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan”, and Julia Roberts in November 2017’s “Wonder”.

Awards season favor for “Room” followed the previous year’s Golden Globe winner “Boyhood” and “The Florida Project” arrives with a similarly youthful pitch.

School’s out for a long, hot summer and, scampering around with a couple of other kids, Moonee finds fun and mischief around the Orlando motel room that her mother rents.

Scrounging for ice cream money, rescuing fish, lobbing water balloons and teasing fellow residents are the order of the day.

And while director Sean Baker has a story to tell about growing up poor in the United States, it’s clear that he wants “The Florida Project” to work as entertainment comedy.

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Prince notches only her third film credit with “The Florida Project” while Bria Vinaite, playing Moonee’s mother Halley, makes her debut here. Baker contacted her directly through Instagram.

Joining the unknowns is Hollywood A-lister Willem Dafoe, a two-time Oscar nominee now tipped for another nod, thanks to his performance as sympathetic motel manager Bobby.

Baker himself has been followed with interest since 2015’s atypical Christmas tale “Tangerine” which was shot entirely on smartphone.

At the Independent Spirit Awards, “Tangerine” was elevated to the same categories as eventual Oscar winners “Spotlight” and “Room”.

Following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May, “The Florida Project”, and Dafoe in particular,- are being tipped as contenders at 2018’s Academy Awards.

Ahead of a Canadian debut at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, and a more general theatrical release on October 6, an R-rated “The Florida Project” holds a Metacritic score of 91, making it the site’s third best movie of 2017 to date; that’s in line with a 96 percent approval rating from fellow review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on an 8.8/10 average score. JB

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TAGS: Independent Spirit Awards, Jacob Tremblay, Room, Willem Dafoe
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