The Florida Project ★★★★½

81/100

Second viewing, no change. Kicking off with "Celebration" is a sly feint (for which I fell the first time)—as in Tangerine, Baker fairly oozes compassion, but he's by no means blind to Halley's failings as a parent, nor to their corrosive effect on Moonee. Hence the film quietly but firmly pivoting on Ashley's abrupt rejection after she learns that the kids started the fire, a schism that ultimately leads Child Protective Services to Halley's door. Likewise, Bobby's limitless patience doesn't stop him from enforcing the rules...though Baker also makes a point of contrasting him with the cruelly rigid new owners at a competing motel, who refuse to honor an arrangement designed to help out the indigent. Even the controversial ending (which I adore) arguably posits DisneyWorld as both salvation and trap. There are no easy answers here, just remarkably clear-eyed observation plus superlative art direction by Greater Orlando. And while Barry Keoghan's remains my favorite male supporting performance of the year, it's been a joy watching Dafoe collect honors for his most Christlike turn since Platoon.