A sleepy, loose two hours in the world of a child in a hilariously garish motel near the economic edge of Disneyworld in Florida. It unfolds as a stream of consciousness day-to-day of a child’s carefree life in the American summer break. There’s not much in the way of plot, or motivations, or character arcs, because it’s presented just as real life in the day to day. Friends flit in and out, and the concerns of reality are kept to the limits of a child’s understanding.
At the end, the film commits even further to the perspective of the child, burying itself into that unwittingly blissful escape from reality and consequence (the specifics of just how anchored that ending scene is in reality is unimportant, the key is it can’t last either way) totally.
The performances are wonderfully organic, with excellent turns from the kids, and a lovely against-type, very naturalistic performance from Willem Dafoe (in contrast to his more regularly theatrical type roles). He deploys his charm and charisma in warm and paternal ways, but always in a restrained, natural way, never approaching sentimentality. The cast are well served by the script, which denies characters any real hero or villain moments and just treats them honestly as people, warts and all.
The colours and photography sell the strange juxtaposition of the rough, poor living with the rich fantasy so closeby. It’s a captivating glimpse into a child’s experience of that world. Three and a half ice creams, and a wristband.