The Florida Project – The Truth About Disney Endings
Mooney was the funniest character I’ve encountered in 2017. For the first half of The Floria Project I laughed in every scene. That’s really not an exaggeration. Mooney so confidently captured the whimsical innocence of childhood summers that her lawlessness was charming instead of disturbing. Unfortunately, that would not last (see CRY below).
But while it did, Mooney surely made most viewing adults yearn for a time when fun was effortless. “Playing” in childhood is perhaps the foremost example of truly living in the moment; there’s no real plan other than following that which is interesting. At its best, everything is interesting, from hustling for ice cream, to directionless walks, to watching women sunbathe topless. (That scene and the one that immediately followed it marked my peak experience watching The Florida Project. The entire theater was remarkably silent as I laughed so hard I struggled to breathe. Or maybe they, like me, were silent because they too were laughing so hard. Come to think of it, I wasn’t making any sounds either – it was that special level of laughter where amusement renders one inaudible.)
“The Florida Project” made me LAUGH.
The Florida Project turned from the top LAUGH of 2017 into the saddest film of 2017 starting the moment Halley gets kicked out for selling perfume.
All the fun suddenly gave way to the inescapability of the situation. The fact that Halley has no money. The fact that she is a terrible mother. The fact that Mooney is almost certainly doomed to a dismal future.
But it’s really Halley’s disrespect borne out of unfathomable arrogance that got me the most. Halley, and characters like her, are absolutely my least favorite characters.
I get that the arrogance isn’t really unfathomable because it’s just a form of self-defense. I also get that facing the harshest realities about oneself is something we all avoid. And I, of course, get that little Mooney, who is so blameless now, will one day become her mother.
Along her way to adulthood she will pass some arbitrary threshold when we will start blaming her for behavior we’ll excuse in childhood. This is true even though it’s hard to deny that she, like everyone, is nothing more than a product of things she can’t control, her terrible environment and genes, and that fact doesn’t change simply because she’s a little older. And that if we can acknowledge the absurdity of blaming a person like this (i.e., every person who has ever lived), then how can we blame her mother?
Still, even knowing all of that, when Halley refutes blatant photographic evidence of her illicit solicitations or pours her drink out in the hotel lobby, I can cry, but I can’t muster any sympathy or empathy or compassion or anything remotely positive toward her.
All of this is really a combination of thinking and crying, so I’ll add a THINK here.
The prime example of that combination came via a truly remarkable ending. The Florida Project made clear over the course of its two-hour running time that there is no easy way out for people stuck in Halley/Mooney’s situation; those who pretend to have easy answers should be immediately dismissed for their vapidness.
Some who do know better still perpetuate mythical silver bullets as card-carrying members of the”power of positive thinking” cult. This simply isn’t a legitimate response to any crisis. It amounts to a default behavior for people who lack substance, but still want to feel like they are helping. Hint: You aren’t. If anything, belief in miracle solutions only blinds us into inaction and prevents us from making the necessary, painful decisions that offer any hope of salvation. Mooney rightfully calls these people who fight against progress under the guise of positive nobility what they are: liars.
This is what the ending seemed to be saying in an unbelievably creative way. You want a Disney ending? You want an easy solution? You want it to all just be O.K. this one time because you really, really like Mooney? Ha.
“The Florida Project” made me CRY and THINK.