EIFF 2014: I Believe in Unicorns

Film Review by Josh Slater-Williams | 24 Jun 2014
Film title: I Believe in Unicorns
Director: Leah Meyerhoff
Starring: Natalia Dyer, Peter Vack, Julia Garner, Amy Seimetz, Toni Meyerhoff

A merging of Terrence Malick’s Badlands and Terry Gilliam’s Tideland might be read as a possible influence on I Believe in Unicorns, but this very impressive road movie from Leah Meyerhoff (who writes, directs and partially animates some stop-motion sequences) forges an evocative stylistic voice of its own.

Unicorns’ narrative, purposefully hazy at times, is filtered through vulnerable 16 year-old protagonist Davina, played by a revelatory Natalia Dyer in her first big role. The sole caretaker of her disabled mother, she escapes into her fantastic imagination, but is drawn to a very real older boy, Sterling (Vack). Their passion is heated despite his coldness at times, but after they run off together it becomes apparent, if not necessarily to Davina, that this is an abusive relationship in which one preys on the other’s fantasies.

Refreshing in its sexual frankness and uniquely feminine perspective on young love’s complications, the dreamily evocative Unicorns is a beautiful (mostly) 16mm nightmare, one of the most visually accomplished feature debuts of late from an American filmmaker.

I Believe in Unicorns has its international premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival

23 Jun, 8.40pm, Cineworld 12

29 Jun, 3.40pm, Cineworld 5