Before you read: This review originally was written for and appeared on SetTheTape.com for my EIFF 2018 coverage on 29/06/18
If you’ve heard of Unicorn Store you may already know that it is academy award winner Brie Larson’s passion project. A film that she fought to direct and get made. When it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival it failed to make much of splash, distributors feared it, people were unsure what audience it was for, reviews were lukewarm at best. It doesn’t sound like a reaction to the movie that I just watched. In my opinion, Unicorn Store is a fantastic film about happiness, love and family. A film that was made for people like me, not quite a proper soulless adult anymore, but definitely not a child. A modern age fairy-tale.
Brie Larson plays Kit. A woman in her 20s with an obsession with Unicorns, bright colours and interesting clothing. Her entire persona kind of reminded me of Kimmy Schmidt in the sense of her childlike wonder to almost everything in the world. A spark of colour in a sea of beige and grey Brie Larson shines. Positivity just radiates from her while also pulling off some of the most heart-breaking moments of the movie.
Kit has been kicked out of art school for not conforming, her parents (Joan Cusack and Bradley Whitford) are quietly disappointed in her and her choices in life. Comparing her to a semi-successful childhood friend, Kevin (Karan Soni). To combat this, she decides to get a job at a temp agency and become a real working person. She wears her mum grey suit to blend in and work hard. While there she receives a letter in a Hogwarts like fashion, minus the owls and spells. It tells her to go to a store, where she is promised that she’ll find something and someone that will truly love her and that she will never be alone again.
This is where he meets the eccentric and loud Salesman (Samuel L Jackson) with a small afro, a pink suit and confetti in his hair. He acts as the fairy godmother character for this films fairy-tale, promising Kit a unicorn if she can prove she deserves it by completing a list of requirements. On her journey, she meets friends and has to come to terms with her relationships, new job and the ways of making hay that is edible by Unicorns. Samantha McIntyre has written a fantastic script for a very colourful comedy, full of laughs, pure joy and great drama. It balances these brilliantly in a great juggling act, leading up to its ending which is genuine and emotional.
I can’t help but feel this was unfairly treated by previous festivals. The main issue falling on who the target audience is for the film. Brie Larson was recently in the headlines for a quote about how she didn’t want to know what a white male critic thought of a Wrinkle in Time or other movies that did not meet expectations. This left some to wonder if it was an outburst based on the reaction to her own movie. While I disagree and agree with some of what she was saying, I too can see why a constant questioning and basing a movie on who it was made for, it feels valid for some cases, but this movie is so clearly for everyone over the age of 15 who has ever been a kid. The situation parallels the movie in some ways. There is a scene in the movie where Kit gives a presentation and the grey and beige boardroom just couldn’t quite connect with what she was trying to achieve. The same goes for the movie feel it needs to be re-evaluated by those who were unsure on a first watch. This movie is sheer genius. I truly unique and individual comedy that tries to unlock your inner child and then come to terms with it.
Unicorn Store needs your help. It needs distribution. After being left out in the cold after its premiere. Like the movie’s unicorn, it needs a suitable home full of love. So if you’re in Edinburgh or near any festival that will be showing this over the next year, please support it and hopefully it will finally get a full theatrical release.
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