In a world where we are far too often encouraged to push creativity and our childhood dreams to the side, Unicorn Store is a beautiful breath of fresh air and Brie Larson perfectly captures the magic and beauty of innocent imagination. Larson’s directorial debut tells the story of a young woman struggling to figure out her place in the world. A clichéd, overdone concept you might think at first, but in no way is this a traditional coming of age story.
After crashing out of art school, Kit (Brie Larson) moves back into her childhood home and struggles to not only readjust to living with her parents, but to deal with her failure and find a new path. She takes a job at a creativity-starved public relations firm, and fits herself into the reality we are encouraged to pursue, a stable and secure job with opportunities to progress and build a career. It’s not until she receives an invitation to ‘the shop’ that her goals change.
Here she meets ‘The Salesman’ (Samuel L. Jackson) and is given an incredibly enticing proposition. She is offered all she ever wanted as a child, and given a small task to complete in order to obtain it. It’s fantastical and magical, and of course no-one believes her. This is where we begin to explore the relationship between Kit and her parents (Joan Cusack and Bradley Whitford) who supported and fostered her creativity when she was younger, but are more concerned now she end up in a stable job.
Kit’s innocent belief in the fantasies she dreamed of as a child, and her determination to make them her reality, reminds us all that we never really lose the child inside us. The ability to believe in the extraordinary fades as we grow older, and as we face more responsibility our willingness to risk everything to make them become real disappears too. Unicorn Store is a beautiful celebration of how valuable these dreams can be and how our creativity can inspire us.
Jackson and Larson, who also recently starred together in Captain Marvel, make an exceptionally comedic pair. He evokes a Willy Wonka type character, living in a world where dreams are more real than reality and while he doesn’t have much time on screen, every second is a joy.
Kit’s struggle to assert her independence whilst growing her relationship with her parents is handled well, but it is the friendship which develops between Kit and a young man working at the hardware store nearby, which is most heartwarming. Without knowing it directly, his willingness to help is what makes her dreams possible and Mamoudou Athie truly could not have delivered a more exceptional performance.
Unicorn Store is in many ways a loving portrayal of different relationships, all troubled and none completely perfect, but a reminder that love is one of the greatest inspirations for creativity.