The latest from Sean Baker juxtaposes the carefree summer of a spirited kid with the harsh realities dogging the grown-ups in her orbit.
In his highly anticipated follow-up to his award-winning Tangerine, Baker makes a sincere but wholly unsentimental foray into a community living on the margins of American society. In the process, we encounter two of the most unforgettable characters in the cinema this year: 22-year-old Halley (Bria Vinaite), and her six-year-old daughter, Moonee (Brooklynn Prince).
Halley and Moonee live in a cheap motel near an Orlando freeway, a stone's throw from a cartoon-inspired theme park. That park — and every piece of mythology, consumerism, and fantasy it represents — might as well be on Mars for this mother and daughter, as Halley struggles to keep menial jobs to put a $35-a-night roof over their heads and sugary cereal on the table.
Although her mother grapples with impulse control and a sad bewilderment at her chaotic life, Moonee grabs every day by the tail, corralling her pals from the next motel over to explore abandoned buildings, grift ice cream, and exuberantly prank the motel staff, most notably the ever-patient Bobby (Willem Dafoe). When life takes a further downward spiral, Moonee's defiant, no-holds-barred love for her mother defines her uncertain future.
Baker's immersive examination of lives lived in the shadow of a fantasy world holds no clichéd, feel-good lessons about love or families. Instead, it boldly takes us to a place where momentary joys, a mother's devotion, and a spirited girl called Moonee can find a home.
New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actor, Willem Dafoe and Best Director Sean Baker
'There is no other film quite like it, this year or any other.' Punch Drunk Critics
'One of this year's best films, a remarkable slice of life. If ever there were a sleeper deserving of wide recognition, this is it.' leonardmaltin.com
'Director Sean Baker crafts one of the best and toughest films about childhood ever and gives a never-better Willem Dafoe a clear shot at an Oscar.' Rolling Stone
'Radiant and unsentimental.' Time magazine
'Dafoe's warm and generous performance is simply astonishing.' Associated Press
'This is a film of rare joy, even in its more unsparing moments, and the kind of film that should be seen by anybody who loves movies.' Consequence of Sound
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