The directorial debut from Brie Larson is an unabashedly girlie hymn to embracing your inner child
The first words uttered in Brie Larson’s directorial debut Unicorn Store are “pink, unicorn, pony”; that’s all you really need to know about this charming story of millennial magical realism. As sickeningly sweet as a child let loose in the pick 'n' mix aisle, the film is unabashed in its girliness – but that is by no means a bad thing. Unicorn Store is a film that should be celebrated.
Larson stars as Kit, a 20-something with a chronic case of Peter Pan syndrome. Her refusal to colour inside the lines (metaphorically and literally) doesn’t sit well with her retrograde professor and costs her a place in art school. With some coaxing from her parents (whom she still lives with), she gets a temporary job at a PR firm promoting vacuums – a first-world nightmare for someone with dreams that go beyond the walls of an office cubicle.
Before she crosses the threshold into adulthood, a mysterious salesman (Jackson) appears with the promise of what she truly desires: a unicorn. Samuel L. Jackson is hilarious – speaking like every Samuel L. Jackson character does (swears and all) only this time he’s donned in extravagant candy floss suits and streamers that trail from his hair.
The film threatens to come across as a bit twee, but it’s a smarter film than it lets on. It straddles the fine line between fantasy and reality, with Larson’s direction creating an effective dichotomy with Samantha McIntyre’s subversive screenplay. The muted colour palette of browns and greys contrasts heavily with Kit’s rainbow wardrobe, emphasising her inability to fit in with dull, corporate America.
It’s wonderfully refreshing that the message here is not that you should grow up, but rather it’s okay, encouraged even, to embrace your childish side. We have plenty of manchild Seth Rogen comedies that are beloved – maybe the girls should get a shot too.
Unicorn Store screen at Edinburgh International Film Festival on 29&30 Jun – more details and tickets here
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