Amidst hypnotic dizziness of glossy Superhero movies, Sean Baker’s The Florida Project finds its voice by shedding light on America’s epidemic of homelessness. Films like these tend to be labeled in a stereotypical way but The Florida Project achieves what it sets out to do albeit with a colourful and mildly cheerful tone.
We get a humane portrayal of Orlando, Florida’s much stigmatised corner of makeshift Motels that hide the groveling wound of poverty, substance abuse and insecurity. What hits the audience the hardest is the stark contrast of the quality of life that the children of these motels and the children who visit the adjacent Disney World lead. In a single imagistic sweep, Baker presents to us the growing inequality, the reign of capitalism along with these despondent people battered by existence. Yet the mastery lies with how gentle the film comes off to the viewers at first glance. Through the shenanigans of two little children we enjoy the little moments of pure innocence before they march towards the experience of their lives. And nothing can summarise the exuberance of life better than this snippet from the conversation between Moonee (Brooklyn Prince) and Jancey (Valeria Cotto). So, if you love touching heartfelt dramas, here is the list of movies similar to Florida Project that are our recommendations. You can watch some of these movies like The Florida Project on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
Mudbound is another period film that exposes the seething contempt for the ‘other’. It swings back and forth between two parallel threads of friendship and hatred. The overall theme is about the struggles of owning a piece of land amidst rain and mud of Mississippi delta which is intertwined with rampant Jim Crow killings. The story is powerful, sincere and is constructed nicely, backed by a superb cast of performers. The racial discrimination, the class struggle and the betrayals are enmeshed in a brutal climax that leaves the film’s impact lingering for a long time.
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The youngest film in the list, Shoplifters is a Japanese film directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. It is yet another film that deals with the failures of political powers and society in general that fails to protect its own people at the fringe. It is a story of a Japanese family running scams to make their ends meet. Even though it can fall in the bracket of ‘poverty porn’ just like Slumdog Millionaire, it poses many more questions of morality and humanity in the face of perils during its runtime.
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8. Beasts of the Southern Wild
Another overlooked gem of a film made by Benh Zeitlin. Get ready to dive into the world of intruding supernatural creature colliding with a child named Hushpuppy’s personal crisis of impending orphanhood. The film is sweet, sentimental, honest in its depiction of a child’s life in a faraway delta community.
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When we are talking about Sean Baker’s The Florida Project it will be a transgression if we leave out his another highly acclaimed film, Tangerine. Apart from possessing a fare share of fame for being shot in an iPhone, Tangerine also holds considerable cinematic excellence. Much like The Florida Project, Tangerine too depicts an overlooked section of society and tries to bring their lives, their agony, pain and their journey to the fore. While portraying the plight of transgender sex workers much to the director’s credit, the film also achieves to be ingeniously funny and deep.
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6. Bicycle Thieves
Let’s head back to the classics now shall we? If you loved The Florida Project then there’s no reason for you not to love Vittorio De Sica’s legendary Bicycle Thieves. It’s the classic take on poverty through the lenses of neorealism. The story unfolds with thievery of a destitute’s finest possession, the bicycle. Through the protagonist’s desperate searching of the bicycle along with his son, De Sica exhibits the glaring and crude realities of poverty throughout the French streets. The film manages to put together so many elements in terms of storytelling that by the end the viewers are left gasping for breath.
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5. Hell or High Water
This film shares a lot of similarity with The Florida Project mainly in terms of specific geographical crisis. This neo-western does more than just scratch the surface of the prevalent financial struggle in old west Texas. Essentially a taut bank robbery thriller, the impact of Hell or High Water is greatly increased by the actors in the film particularly the rugged Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Brothers Tanner. This tale of brotherhood, family struggle and a new take on the cop-robber theme has injected a breath of fresh air into the stagnant Western genre.
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4. To Kill a Mockingbird
A classic adaptation of Harper Lee’s ever significant book by the same name, To Kill a Mockingbird deals with America’s another spectacular failure of humanity – racism. Robert Mulligan’s film sets itself in ‘tired old’ Maycomb county where the racial intolerance is quite visible. Through the eyes of siblings Scout and Jem we get an accurate and deeply realistic picture of social structure, stigma and the follies of human souls. The usage of monochromatic palette despite the presence of colour technology renders an unique touch to it. A potent court room drama on its own, To Kill a Mockingbird showcases the inherent goodness in man against prejudices.
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3. The Grapes of Wrath
Another book to film adaptation. This time it is John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel that is adapted for the big screen. The Grapes of Wrath is a scathing social commentary when the wounds of The Great Depression was still fresh. The maestro John Ford’s deeply idealistic film about workers’s rights is steeped into the American fabric of political tension. Accompanied by Henry Fonda’s powerhouse performance this black and white film of yesteryear still holds a great deal of value in today’s world.
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The fact that Moonlight is the Oscar winner for the Best Picture in 2016 speaks a lot for itself. Few films are out there that can better Moonlight when it comes to coming-of-age dramas. The milieu is the drug inflicted Miami which adds a special layer to the main story of a black kid’s journey to the revelation of his sexuality and these are shown quite unapologetically and intimately. The kid, Chiron’s presence stands in sharp contrast to the surrounding neighborhood that demands the mask of masculinity in order to survive. The recurring importance shown to water and moonlight is visceral and lyrical. The film is dissected in 3 parts, named after three nicknames of the protagonist, symbolising three aspects of the person in his growing years. Just like The Florida Project, Moonlight too delves deep into the failures of society with people uncertain about the nature of their existence.
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Room (2016) is another great example of how trauma and difficult upbringing can have lingering repercussions on a child. Fuelled by great performances by Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson, the film showcases essential human feelings bereft of external factors. It depicts an unusual circumstance for living that results in a deeply personal relationship between a mother and her child. The film is suspenseful, profound and thought-provoking all at the same time. A highly intelligent affair, Room deserves a lot of credit by achieving the rare feat of climaxing by the half-time yet not losing its credibility in the second half.
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