Unicorn Store review: Brie Larson makes her directorial debut with this quirky drama, a whimsical journey of self discovery.
Unicorn Store review by Paul Heath.
Academy Award winner Brie Larson makes her directorial debut with this adorable drama about a young woman trying to grow up and be responsible, while at the same time clinging onto her dreams.
Larson is Kit, a twenty-something woman who in the opening frames we see ejected from art school. Her outlandish, multi-coloured paintings seemingly too much for her conforming teachers. Kit still lives with her parents – a brilliant Joan Cusack and Bradley Whitford – and is struggling to decide on what to do next. After deciding to initially dump herself on the sofa watching bad daytime TV, Kit decides to move onwards and upwards by joining a temp agency, and almost immediately lands her first job at a local PR film making coffee and handling the mundane photocopying. Her wacky dress-sense and kooky personality grabs the attention of the firm’s sleazy president Gary, who gives her a shot at working on a high-profile ad campaign for a leading vacuum manufacturer.
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However, Kit starts to receive quirky cards from an unknown sender, asking her to attend somewhere referred to as ‘The Store’, a place where a mysterious stranger, played by Samuel L. Jackson awaits her, offering something she’s always dreamed of owning… a unicorn all of her own. However, in order to receive the gift, she must perform a number of tasks – building a suitable home for it, surrounding it with love etc. The film charts that journey in a slick, tight, 90-minute voyage of discovery with unique prowess and wonderful whimsy.
Larson show great promise with her debut film as director, the film very enjoyable and sweet to watch throughout. It’s certainly one of those films which sees the viewer sat there wondering just what on earth is going on for its entire running time, but it’s hard not to fall for its unique charm and easily likeable characters. While it’s far from a complete
As an actress, Larson is charming as her naive, non-worldly dreamer, and is a delight to watch in every scene. The film largely works because of her performance – a charming, likeable character who you want to succeed. Jackson’s involvement is confined to just a few scenes, but as always, he nails the role as the mysterious dreams maker at the heart of the story.
There are some slight tonal issues within though, as one can’t quite understand Kit’s intentions, particularly in the scene with hardware store worker Virgil (Mamoudou Athie) toward the end. But because you like her so much, it doesn’t really affect your enjoyment of the final product.
It’s a film about readjusting dreams in life, while at the same time not losing focus on what one really wants from it – obviously something we can all relate too. While Larson’s first feature is far from a complete home run, it’s a solid debut from someone who should go on to a long and successful career behind the camera as well as in front of it.
Unicorn Store review by Paul Heath at the Toronto International Film Festival 2017.
Unicorn Store is currently awaiting a UK release.