If you’ve never struggled financially, you need to see this movie, especially if you believe in the phrase “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
The Florida Project is social commentary I cannot re-watch with abandon, like Get Out. There’s little comedic refreshment, the pacing is sluggish, and as for the plot, there isn’t much of one. The Florida Project’s hyperrealistic atmosphere is what makes the film intoxicating. Often Hollywood whitewashes poverty or worse, romanticizes it. There’s several reasons the cycle of poverty perpetuates itself and this film does an excellent job of explaining why.
Moonee learns through her mother’s example to shun authority, an indoor voice doesn’t exist, and you take what you can’t get. Good skills from a survival standpoint, but bad habits from a developed societal view. We don’t know for sure how Moonee’s life will shape up, but the odds are against her. How depressing is it to look at a six-year-old and realize that society’s structure will likely beat out every last drop of resiliency this girl has?
When society lacks respect for you, how can you respect yourself? It’s a daily struggle that those immersed in poverty know too well. Choice and privacy are rights only endowed to the middle and upper classes. How long would you last before you become as bitter toward authority as Halley? And for all of her misguided attempts at motherhood, Halley still cultivates a few ounces of warm maternal love for Moonnee.
To top it off we have well-meaning social service workers who believe they’re doing the right thing by ripping Moonee away from her “unfit” mother. And here we have a prime example of why morality is gray. There’s no doubt social services thinks they are being helpful and there’s also no doubt stowing your daughter away in the bathroom while you turn tricks is damaging to their development and safety. But where is the line? And how much does familial love overtake the other considerations with childhood development? Who creates this value system?
Consider the privilege that being part of a wealthy family endows. A wealthy mother can be coked out on Xanax and wine everyday without fear of CPS taking her children away. A wealthy mother can still expose her child to risk by cavorting with sex offenders. Wealth does not equal perfection.
The poor are microscopically scrutinized because they receive social benefits. I don’t know if it’s wrong or right, but it’s gotta be incredibly stressful. You shouldn’t have children if you can’t afford it, but humanity isn’t an ideal. People make mistakes. Not everyone receives top-notch sexual health education in school. As a society we need to plan to minimize the impact of these mistakes. Is there a way to offer help with more respect and therefore, more successful outcomes?
What I hope this film elicits for you is empathy. Since 2016 there’s been a giant schism within our culture to shun those who have differing beliefs than our own. There’s an atmosphere of absolutism polluting both sides of our political spectrum and leaking into everyday discourse. Enter empathy, an underrated emotion that has the power to grow bonds, generate compassion, and create solutions.
Orange Pineapple Strawberry Daiquiri
Home of Casey Anthony, real-life zombies, and your racist grandma, Florida has a strong identifying item: the orange. If you’re like Halley and can’t afford a vacation from this never-ending winter, escape with this tropical rum daiquiri.
Recipe for 2
- 1 large orange, juiced
- 1/2 cup coconut water
- 3/4 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 1/2 cup frozen strawberry chunks
- 1 cup ice
- 3 oz rum
- Blend the non-alcoholic ingredients together in a blender.
- Pour 1.5 oz rum in each glass.
- Top the rum off with the blended mixture.