Watching both films one after the other reveals connections between their different worlds.
"The Florida Project" shows the adventures of Monee, a 6-year-old girl living with her stripper/prostitute/hustler mother in a gritty hotel called "The Magic Castle," a ripoff of the nearby Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Played with comic/heart-rending verve by the young newcomer Brooklynn Prince, Monee spends her summer days leading her friends into small and not so small acts of mischief, conning free ice cream and waffles from fast-food places along a garish strip, and discovering lingering beauty in the state's ravaged nature.
"Goodbye Christopher Robin" looks at the broken childhood of Christopher Robin Milne, the model of the boy in the classic "Winnie the Pooh" stories, written by his father, A.A. Milne, who achieved global renown for the Pooh books after a successful career as a London playwright and Punch humorist.
In contrast to Monee with her world of parking lots, garish highways and abandoned condos, Christopher, played by a another captivating child actor, Will Tilston, has an 100-acre unspoiled forest to explore.
The film shows how A.A. Milne, a depressed veteran of World War I's Battle of the Somme suffering from undiagnosed PTSD, derived his Pooh stories from Christopher's imaginative interactions with his Teddy bear and other stuffed animals. (They are now behind glass at New York City's Fifth Avenue Library.)
Milne, played with morose repression by Domhnall Gleeson, cashes in on the Pooh stories' popularity by subjecting his son to public appearances and commercial promotions. The young Milne grows up bitterly resenting his parents for encroaching upon his private childhood world.
Overprotected and manipulated by his parents, Christopher looks unhappier than Monee. While Monee's mother in her own way expresses her love for her daughter, Christopher's mother is reserved and remote. Imaginatively played by Margo Robbie with chilly restraint, Daphne Milne most fully displays her love for her son by pretending to speak in the voice of his toy bear.
Portrayed with feral exuberance by Bria Vinatte in her first role, Monee's mom, Halley, is herself a child, self-defeating and lacking impulse control. In contrast to Daphne's remoteness, she overindulges Monee, who appears more secure than Christopher.
The two films also offer an interesting comparison of male figures. The Florida Project's central male character, the hotel manager named Bobbie, struggles to keep order in his grubby world. While seeking to maintain adult decorum, Bobby like Milne supports the childhood world of imagination and play.
Strongly portrayed by Willem Dafoe, the film's only accomplished star, Bobby strives to carry out his tasks while keeping an eye on the children and preventing the hotel's erratic adults from causing too much havoc.
Lacking Milne's sophistication and language, Bobby is more heroic than Milne in overcoming his psychic wounds. Bobby also has moments of grace and tenderness, expressing his own poetic wonder at the natural world.
Another shared theme is how Disney commodified the childhood experience. Disney World's influence permeates "The Florida Project." Although unmentioned, the Pooh stories received a new burst of worldwide popularity from Disney's usurpation of the characters.
Monee with her human childhood friends is luckier than Christopher, a sadly isolated child. In my imagination, I see Christopher running with Monee through Florida's tawdry commercial wonderland, and Monee walking hand in hand with Christopher through Pooh's forest.