REVIEW: ‘Unicorn Store’ Marks Brie Larson’s Bold Directorial Debut

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Over the last decade, coming-of-age films that have their lead protagonist be very much in touch with events that happened in their childhood have gained popularity while also being an adult has been on the rise. In these kinds of films, the protagonist cannot seem to let go of their inner child while trying to find ways to grow up. Audiences can relate to these films at any age and Unicorn Store, a Netflix Original film directed by Brie Larson, is one of these films.

Unicorn Store stars Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford, Mamoudou Athie, Hamish Linklater, Martha MacIsaac and Karan Soni, as it follows Kit (Larson) a woman who has just failed out of art school and looking for her place in the world. After her failure, she moves back in with her parents and takes up a job at a temp agency. Then, one day, she receives an invitation to a place called “The Store” from an unnamed salesman (Jackson), whose slogan is “we sell what you need.” Intrigued, Kit makes her way to “The Store”, where the Salesman offers her a chance to fulfill her deepest childhood fantasy: owning a unicorn.

Going into the film, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, even after seeing the trailer. However, I can confidently say that this is by far one of the strangest movies that I have ever seen, and that’s definitely a good thing. Being Larson’s directorial debut, she made bold choices that managed to pay off. Telling a story that focuses on childhood dreams and holding on to some of them as adults isn’t something new. That being said, Unicorn Store manages to mark a bold mark [this is repetitive, find a new way to say it] that differentiates it from all other films in this category.

The film takes something innocent, like owning a unicorn and makes it a character defining feature of Kit’s progression throughout the film. Unicorn Store is full of humor, light-heated moments, and filled with this sense of nostalgia for a time when life was easier for us.

The standout performances of the film were delivered by Larson and Jackson. Being one of the three movies where they’ve worked together, the chemistry between them is quite evident. They play off of each other really well in every scene. For instance, viewers are meant to believe that these two characters had never met before. During their first interaction, the Salesman (Jackson) tells Kit about The Store and what it takes to own a unicorn. Kit follows along without question until her doubts about start to kick in. She runs away but then goes back to The Store after a brief return to her normal life and decides to trust him.

Given that they’ve worked together before, it makes sense that they’ve had time get to know one another and make this trust between their characters believable. But beyond her scenes with Jackson, Larson still brings a great performance on her own.

I’ve been a fan of Larson since her performance in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and I have continued to follow any films that she’s been in after. With every film and television show that she’s been on, it’s easy to see just how much her acting has improved. Her ability to play a character that has a sense of childlike wonder without dragging the movie down is outstanding, it’s no wonder that she’s an Academy-Award winning actress.

The wardrobe she was given fits perfectly with who her character in the film. One particular outfit she wears during the last few minutes of the movie is extremely colorful. It’s what the ideal dress designed by a younger child would look like. 

There were a few elements of the movie I wasn’t too fond of, namely her creepy boss Gary (Ashford). I can recognize the character’s importance, but it just didn’t fit well within the story. He played the character of the creepy boss who hits on new employees who makes promises of success in the company with hidden intentions behind them. It was also hard to understand what the actor was saying at times. The voice he decided to use for his character made was most likely meant to play off his character’s lack of emotion, but it was hard to hear what he was saying. I’m glad that I’ve gotten used to watching content on Netflix with subtitles.

In addition, the way Kit’s parents were written pulled me away from the film at times. It does make sense that they would allow their daughter explore the infinite possibilities of life, but their carefree attitude doesn’t seem believable. It doesn’t make sense that parents wouldn’t step in to offer support or even some tough love.

Overall, I quite enjoyed watching Unicorn Store. Having just been in Captain Marvel, which is now a part of the “billion dollar club”, Larson’s film tells one of the most unique stories I’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for something good to watch this weekend, I highly recommend this film.

Unicorn Store is available to stream on Netflix.

Final Rating: 8/10 Unicorn Stores