I kind of wanted to do a Top 10 for this movie, but I realized it just wouldn’t do this movie justice. This movie wasn’t really a narrative, or a story – it was an experience, an almost dreamy excursion under the hot Florida sun. Pangs of cruel adulthood sharply interrupted moments of childhood nostalgia, underscored by bright voices and profuse swearing.
For me, Halley was honestly the highlight of the movie. Just the image of her face, when she snuck Moonee into the breakfast buffet at the luxury hotel, really stuck with me. That look of just pure resignation and inevitableness, giving Moonee one last good memory of them together before she would be taken away by CPS, was just so meaningful. I really do think she was a good mother – she definitely did some god awful things, but Moonee and Halley never had a bad experience together – she did her best even with her limited means to ensure Moonee had a good life. The scene of the two playing in the rain is really a testament to that – most people don’t really go to Florida for the rain, but they made the best out of it.
Bobby was kind of a conflicting character for me. He definitely had a soft spot for the kids (and even their parents), but I kind of wish they did a bit more for his character – maybe a few more scenes of him with the kids, or interacting with his office staff. I want to call him content, but that really isn’t the right word. Maybe resigned, after all his years in the world? But he has more humanity and hope in him than that. I’m not sure.
Also, Bobby’s typing just made me realize how perfect the mise-en-scene was in this movie – typing with one finger on each hand is exactly how I visualize an old grizzled motel manager.
And now, we come to the kids. In some ways, I wish Jancey, Moonee’s new friend, played a bigger role in the film – she just seemed so passive at times. But, all the scenes of the children playing, amidst the bleached purple motel and the bright blue sky, just really evoked such nostalgia for me. Not that I lived a life as unprivileged as the characters in the movie, but the sense of playing under the warm sun, running around the sweet smelling grass, exploring the school. I think my point is that these kids lived such normal lives, despite their circumstances – they had fun with friends, they tried to hide things from their parents and got grounded, people moved away.
One scene really stood out to me, that I kind of mentioned earlier – towards the end of the movie, Halley sneaks Moonee into the buffet at the luxury hotel, and they enjoy one last final meal together. Moonee exclaims something along the lines of “This is heaven! Who could want anything more than this?” I found it rather ironic, that for the people visiting Disneyland, that breakfast buffet is really only a side note – a pregame, if you will, to the main event. Yet, for Moonee, it’s the best thing she’s ever had. And I think that scene really underscores that money really doesn’t necessarily make you happier. Moonee really has lived a good life, at least until the end of the movie.
The one thing I really wasn’t a huge fan of the movie was that one scene of super blatant symbolism, where Moonee talks about her favorite tree, and even though it falls down it keeps growing, and then the camera shifts to a full on shot of the tree. That really honestly wasn’t necessary – this was supposed to be a film about humanity, so show your points by showing people!
I’m honestly kind of sad that this movie wasn’t nominated for more awards at the Oscars. I guess it really doesn’t fit the normal Academy vibes, but no Halley for Supporting Actress, even though I personally think she did a much better job than Bobby in the film? No matter. This film wasn’t made to get an award.