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.
SAG Awards: Nominations - Outstanding performance by a Male Actor (Willem Dafoe)
Golden Globe Awards: Nomination- Best performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Willem Dafoe)
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards: 3 Nominations incl Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Willem Dafoe), Best Young Actress (Brooklynn Prince)
New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actor, Willem Dafoe and Best Director Sean Baker
LA Film Critics Association Awards: Best Supporting Actor (Willem Dafoe).
Gotham Awards: Best Feature; Best Actor (Willem Dafoe); Beast Breakthrough (Brooklyn prince); Audience Award
Independent Spirirt Awards: Nominations Best Feature; Best Director
"★★★★★" "Willem Dafoe... gives one of the best film performances of his entire career...
"Baker...has catapulted himself into a whole new league now....thrillingly vibrant." The Guardian
"It’s a moving, emotional masterpiece." Empire
"...gobsmackingly funny, vivid and moving…" "If you believe in magic, here’s where to find it." Evenng Standard.' Evening Standard
'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
"...authentic and movingly told…" "Brooklynn Prince is a real find…" Variety
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