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NPR Arts & Life

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'The Florida Project'

Actress Bria Vinaite plays 20-something single mom Halley in <em>The Florida Project</em>. Her daughter, Moonee, is played by Brooklynn Prince.
Actress Bria Vinaite plays 20-something single mom Halley in <em>The Florida Project</em>. Her daughter, Moonee, is played by Brooklynn Prince.

Writer-director Sean Baker shot his 2015 feature Tangerineon an iPhone. He returns with The Florida Project, which isn't shot on a phone but still feels organic and close to the ground. It tells the story of Moonee, a 6-year-old girl who lives with her mother in a motel that exists in the low-income shadow economy adjacent to Walt Disney World — all the stuff that sounds like it might be part of the Magic Kingdom, but isn't.

In this episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour, Gene Demby is with us for a talk about the film — which all of us liked very much — and its thoughtful approach to the community where these folks live. We talk about the work of Brooklynn Prince, who plays Moonee, and Bria Vinaite, who plays her mom, as well as an unexpectedly softhearted performance from Willem Dafoe as the manager of the motel. He both enforces the rules and tries to look out for his economically (and otherwise) fragile guests and all their rambunctious kids.

A note: The Florida Projecthas had a little bit of a confusing rollout, but it is still playing in some theaters right now, and it shouldn't be too long before it's streaming. It's well worth seeking it out.

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