The Florida Project(4 / 5)
In his follow-up to 2015’s Tangerine, Sean Baker gives us a confectionary, pastel-coloured ode to the “hidden homeless” in America’s Sunshine State. The gaudy Magical Castle Motel may be located on Seven Dwarves Lane, virtually in the shadow of Disneyland, but life there is no fairy-tale for six-year-old Moonee (Brooklyn Prince, in an astonishingly shrewd performance) and her tatted-up single mum Hallee (Bria Vinaite). Junk food, hip hop, and petty crime are the order of the day as the pair struggle with money and motel life over the course of one freewheeling summer. Hallee is a constant source of aggravation for craggy, careworn manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe; rarely better), and Moonee and her friends, who cycle through her life, are frequently little shits, but the film has limitless empathy for them. The Florida Project conjures up light from darkness, and darkness from light, while never slipping into sentiment or despair.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer(2 / 5)
A human heart, pale and red-veined pulses within a chest cavity; struggling like some deep-sea creature. A Greek tragicomedy based on the myth of Iphigenia, Yorgos Lanthimos’ Killing of a Sacred Deer follows Steven (Colin Farrell), a handsomely bearded surgeon whose children are stricken by a supernatural malady. The cause seems to lie with oddly implacable teenager Martin (Dunkirk‘s Barry Keoghan), who offers Steven an impossible choice. The film creates a sense of dread that sits in the pit of the stomach, drawn from beneath the comic banality of Steven’s domestic and professional life by shrieking strings, and the cruel matter-of-fact-ness of the situation in which he finds himself. Though its aim is perhaps truer than Lanthimos’ chimerical rom-com The Lobster – though Farrell draws on similar wells of deadpan and desperation – The Killing of a Sacred Deer simply isn’t penetrating enough to overcome its moroseness.