22nd Apr2019

‘Unicorn Store’ Review (Netflix)

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford, Mamoudou Athie, Hamish Linklater, Martha MacIsaac, Karan Soni, Annaleigh Ashford, Ryan Hansen, Mary Holland | Written by Samantha McIntyre | Directed by Brie Larson

unicorn-store-poster

Unicorn Store is the directorial debut of Captain Marvel herself and multi-talented actress Brie Larson. Released on streaming giant Netflix after the enormous success of Larson’s portrayal of Carol Danvers in the MCU, Unicorn Store seems sure to cause a storm of success, but the road hasn’t been an easy one to travel, as you may have thought. Filmed and originally set for release in 2017 with its world premiere at TIFF. Larson’s film has had major trouble finding distribution both domestically and internationally for the last two years. Made more peculiar with Larson already having made major ground winning an academy award for her portrayal in Lenny Abrahamson’s Room in 2015. However, after viewing Larson’s film it is quite clear why the struggle has been so rife.

Unicorn Store is the definition of a vanity project. It adds or creates very little in the saturated conversation of growing up or adulting in this daunting world, of which the sub-genre has had a colossal resurgence of late. It struggles to make any form of impact with the material at hand and Larson’s vision and style is incredibly lacking in terms of having substance. It holds and evokes a sense of jovialities without deeper meaning. Granted, it may not be perhaps the films major output but with a film revolving around self-acceptance and sub-textual conversation concerning the societal measure of morality and adulthood, Unicorn Store fluffs its lines with crafting any compelling arc. The depth here is incredibly up and down, meeting in the middle with a stagnated stimulating degree of both mollycoddling and plutonic plotting that starts well with interesting parameters, but before the end crumbles into this form of cheap, cheery flat abundance. Sadly, completely missing the mark with what and how it wants to say.

Larson in the leading role, is terrific, as she is in most of her performances and here is no exception. Her wit here is outstanding, and thus her natural charismatic nature is at the forefront. It’s never bullish or confrontational, but playful and delightful. The humour is one thing, but Larson also caters towards drama with splendid ease. Her screen presence and slight dramatic demeanour with how she physically conveys her characters emotional distress is simply captivating. However, Larson is let down with the utterly outrageous and over the top supporting cast. Samuel L. Jackson’s performance as The Salesman is nothing short of horrid. It’s far too overly cutesy and manic for its own good, almost as if his audition tape for the titular character for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was suddenly unearthed after fourty years of wait in a vault. The character is so abrasive and brash it’s incredibly difficult to familiarise oneself with him, therefore the moving force of the film is ultimately tedious and unwelcoming. Which brings me nicely on with the plot.

The dialogue and screenplay are delivered splendidly. You’d be hard pressed to find any faults with Samantha McIntyre’s screenplay concerning the dialogue of the film. It’s witty and poignantly felt in many intervals throughout, especially concerning Kit’s parents played by the delightfully intrusive Joan Cusack and Bradley Whitford. However, Unicorn Store has so much going on within its plot you’re left with a far too catatonia sensationalist picture, and if that sounds like an oxymoron, you’re probably right. Theirs just far too much trying to be said and conveyed here and the film stumbles with the weight, especially in the last act that takes the absurd to the max, and the compelling to the curb.

Unicorn Store is available to watch on Netflix now.

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