Brie Larson’s directorial debut Unicorn Store grapples with the dichotomy of imaginative youth and mature growth in the passage from adolescence to womanhood. As a 20 year old transitioning into soul-crushing adulthood, Kit (Brie Larson) is suffering through the banality of her new working-class life where her new life feels empty and filled with rejection.
As a young artist denied by the harsh world of art, her creativity is dejectedly left behind in her abject basement. Feeling as though her stale life has burdened her parents, Kit accepts a humdrum job as an office temp at a public relations firm where she pretends to enjoy herself. Desperately trying to accept her new norm, she clearly stands out as a vivid personality at the rinse-and-repeat job, where she ironically scans copies in black-and-white.
While at the office, Kit begins to receive neon letters leading her to “The Store”, where she meets an equally animated salesman (Samuel L. Jackson). While she is skeptical of the place and its salesman, “The Store” is magical and is everything a girl like Kit would desire and more, so when the salesman offers her a chance to adopt a unicorn, Kit overbearingly decides to craft what she believes is the proper home for her new pet.
Kit’s failed nostalgia and ability to grow up and out of her youth is similar to that of Mavis’ in Young Adult, who parallels Kit’s conflicts as she struggles to move past her glory days in high school. Both are apologetically tied to their youth yet have such an overwhelming under-the-surface desire to move forward in their lives. Both Mavis and Kit are too fixated on their failures to properly transition into adulthood as a way to cope with their loss of youth, finally allowing raw wounds to see the light of day in discussions with their parents. Sifting through old photos and old artwork saved over time, they both begin to accept their new life as women. Kit expects the unicorn to be her best friend forever, a testament to the sweet relics of her childhood and the facade of love without limits.
Larson has entered the realm of directing with a visually-striking ball of fun. Unicorn Store is bright and eccentric for those who will accept it. It is filled with a warm cast, electric green pantsuits, and an elegant score to match the exciting femininity of the piece.
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