Unicorn Store Review: A Whimsical Coming-of-Age Story!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“We are all just looking for happiness and maybe if we are lucky, we can just buy it in a store”

Brie Larson believes that films are her preferred form of activism and with her directorial debut ‘Unicorn Store’ she is voicing her take on attaining happiness in a whimsical, glitter-filled, coming-of-age story. ‘Unicorn Store’ is the story of Kit (also played by Academy Award Winner, Brie Larson) who is dejected by her failure as an artist and decides to become a “normal” person and takes up a temp job at an office. She soon starts receiving mysterious invitations to a place called ‘The Store’ run by ‘The Salesman’ (played by Samuel L. Jackson). She visits The Store and finds out that she can get herself a unicorn by proving that she is worthy of owning a unicorn; which is a pet she has always wanted and believed it to be something that will love her forever. Her journey to getting herself the unicorn forms the rest of the film.

Coming-of-age films are a dime a dozen but ‘Unicorn Store’ explores this genre with an earnestness that few other films have. Within its quirky exterior, the film narrates a story of accepting oneself and others, with all the differences. Unlike the other typical teenage dramedies which form a majority of this genre, this film takes a peek into the relationship children have with their parents. Kit’s yearning for unconditional love blinds her from seeing that she always had that from her parents except she has to accept her parents for who they are as well. That is where her journey of acceptance must begin, from home.

Unicorn Store is a bold film in the sense that it pretty much delivers heavy life lessons through overt symbolism – we all know unicorns don’t exist! The ‘unicorn’ in the film represents our truest self and ‘The Store’ a phase in our lives when we find ourselves. I dare say the film is an allegory of today’s hyper-consumerism which is all about buying happiness in some way or the other. But happiness cannot really be bought, can it? One has to work hard to find oneself, accept oneself and accept others just as oneself to truly find happiness – and that’s simply what the film tries to tell us. As a bonus, along the way, the film also touches upon issues of casual sexism, inappropriate work culture, and mental health. Despite tackling such seemingly heavy issues, the film is light, fluffy and truly heartfelt and there lies its genius.

The film has been cast appropriately and it was truly a delight to see bad old Samuel L. Jackson in brightly colored suits and eye wear, with tinsel in his afro, working hard at selling a unicorn without uttering a single curse word! Brie Larson plays the unassuming yet slightly self-involved Kit effortlessly. One of the standouts of the film was its clever use of colors to highlight how different Kit feels from her parents and the rest of the world. While Kit wears bright sparkly colors; her parents, their house, her office colleagues and the office are all adorned by muted, earthy colors. With its ninety-minute run time, the film was a breeze to get through and delivered well what it set out to deliver.

The film had its original world premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and is now available as a Netflix Presentation. Kudos to Netflix for bagging another gem. As a film written, directed and produced by women at the helm of affairs, it is something to be celebrated. But most importantly, the film tries to test its own message – whether as an audience we can accept films like these even if we don’t necessarily appreciate them for the simple reason that it is just another film, however different, trying to tell a story. As Brie Larson said in an interview, it is just another piece on the board. Maybe we can be open enough to accept it.

My Rating – 3.5/5 | Grade – B+

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