Some directors are virtuosos not just for their skill, but for how well they pull off the difficult subjects they choose to focus on, such as the lives of the impoverished. Often films about those with too few options are exploitative, either glamorizing the life of the poor in all its seemingly gritty glory, or serving as condescending pleas for help on behalf of saintly sufferers.
There are exceptions to the rule, such as Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, Lee Daniels’s Precious, Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone, and Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild. Sean Baker took us into the world of a very different set of outcasts in his movie Tangerine, which followed a day in the life of two best friends who were also trans women prostitutes, one of whom was fresh out of prison and searching for the pimp and former lover who broke her heart.
Baker’s new film The Florida Project may have more conventional leads in the form of some very adorable kids, but that doesn’t mean he’s taking the easy way out, as their environment is anything but cute.