This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. If you would like to keep up with our content, click here. Check out my Instagram page for pictures of the North American premiere.
Synopsis: Despite her harsh surroundings, the precocious and ebullient Moonee has no trouble making each day a celebration of life, her endless afternoons overflowing with mischief and grand adventure as she and her ragtag playmates—including Jancey, a new arrival to the area who quickly becomes Moonee’s best friend—fearlessly explore the utterly unique world into which they’ve been thrown. Unbeknownst to Moonee, however, her delicate fantasy is supported by the toil and sacrifice of Halley, who is forced to explore increasingly dangerous possibilities in order to provide for her daughter. (a24)
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Valeria Cotto
Writers: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Director: Sean Baker
Rating: n/a (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 115mins
Hidden homelessness has been a rarely discussed subject. The hidden homeless are considered as those who live in temporary housing before hitting the street. This film explores this topic through a mother named Halley (Bria Vinaite) and her daughter Moonee (Prince). For now, they live in a motel run by a man named Bobby (Dafoe). Times were tough for them although you wouldn’t know that, watching Moonee and her child-like sense of wonder. Her mother had to do some questionable things in order for them to survive but this world was all she knew thus influencing her personality.
This was a beautiful film to look at thanks to the cinematography and set design with the motel and the surrounding area almost becoming another character in the film. The problem with the film was that it was difficult to connect with the characters on an emotional level. Moonee had some cute moments but the only likable character was Bobby. The acting was good all around, however, the best performance was Dafoe as Bobby, the caring manager who was forced to shoulder all the responsibility.
Overall, this was a beautiful drama, covering an important topic that may not have its desired impact since it was difficult to connect with the characters on an emotional level.