TL;DR – A delightful film about the tension between dreams and reality and how they don’t always add up
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
One of the things that is becoming rarer and rarer these days is going into a film without any idea what to expect. Well, today I got to experience one of those rare moments as I turned on Netflix and stepped into a world of glitter and paint and every colour in the rainbow with no idea what I was getting myself into.
So to set the scene, we open with a montage of Kit (Brie Larson) growing up, discovering her life, discovering her joy for art, only to have it come crashing down when she fails out of Art College and has to go back to live with her mother Gladys (Joan Cusack) and her dad Gene (Bradley Whitford). This of course sets of a period of depression as Kit fails to find purpose in her life, while her parents try to help, like introducing her to Kevin (Karan Soni), but it is not very successful. In frustration, she joins a temp agency where she placed in an advertising firm, a place where creativity goes to die. When one day she gets a letter to come visit The Store and she finds The Salesman (Samuel L. Jackson) waiting because he has the one thing she has always wanted a Unicorn.
begin with, I think this movie hits a bit
close to home for me, as I recently lost my job, am living in my parents’ home,
and Kat’s slip into despondency was all too real. There is that moment where
the world tells you that everything that you do is not good enough, and you
need to change everything you are as a person to fit in and well goodness did
that speak to me. But even in her moment of despair Kit can’t help but make
art, this time with a photocopier (which is a whole
movement in the art world). She finds hope in the darkest place, which endears
her to you when you start questioning everything that is happening.
This is a film that is exploring the boundaries between what is a dream and what is real, and even at the end of the film, I cannot actually tell you if I am sure if this happened or if this was all within her subconscious. Indeed, I can’t tell you if entire characters are real or make-believe, to the point where I want to go back rewatch the film and check to see if they actually interacted with anyone else. Part of why it is so hard to tell is that Brie 100% sells that she is touching a strand of unicorn hair, and what she is seeing is real, even when her parents feel that she is making it all up
dissidence between the real and the dream can be seen and heard throughout the
film. So there are times when joyful
almost jaunty music is played over a scene that is actually quite tense. There
is a moment when a character walks out holding a lampstand, is she stealing the lampstand,
why is it still plugged in? You also see it in how the world is full of greys
and dull colours, but Kit’s world is full of colour and glitter, and those two
worlds constantly clash, both metaphorically and literally.
All of this leads to some pretty wild shifts in tone, which to be fair the film does not quite nail all the time. So you so from the majesty of The Store to a scene where Kit’s boss is straight up sexually harassing her and there are some jarring tonal moments. But when it works it is on fire. [SPOILERS] For example, throughout the film her parents are sort of portrayed as these camp councillors that are from that Californian suburban progressive mindset, where they talk about their feeling, only eat kale, and would have voted for Obama a third time. However, when we actually get to a camp and Kit confronts them that everyone is lying in the ‘Truth Circle’ we see a side to them hidden from Kit. They know people are lying to them, but they also know that the kids have gone through extreme trauma and that being a safe place for them is more important than calling them out. It is the little moments that make the film for me. Also yelling “Graph paper can’t love you back!” is one hell of a mood.
So in the end, do we recommend Unicorn Store? Yes, well sort of. It is a film that plays on your notions of the real and the dream and it does not give a clear answers, and so that could become frustrating for you. However, for me at least, I found it to be charming, full of colour, and have moments of pure joy.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
Have you watched Unicorn Store?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Unicorn Store
Directed by – Brie Larson
Written by – Samantha McIntyre
Music by – Alex Greenwald
Cinematography by – Brett Pawlak
Edited by – Jennifer Vecchierello
Production/Distribution Companies – The District, Rip Cord Productions, Rhea Films, Sycamore Pictures, Hercules Film Fund, 51 Entertainment & Netflix
Starring – Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford, Mamoudou Athie, Karan Soni, Mary Holland, Hamish Linklater, Annaleigh Ashford, Martha MacIsaac, Chris Witaske & Ryan Hansen
Rating – Australia: PG;