The Marvelous Brie Larson — #4

Welcome back to another edition of my latest Actor Profile, The Marvelous Brie Larson, a monthly series revolving around the silver screen performances of one of my favorite actresses. If you are a newcomer to this series, the idea behind this feature is to bring attention to a specific performer and their skill sets and to see how they contribute to a story.

As I mentioned in my opening comments on the first edition of The Marvelous Brie Larson (you can find that here) watching an actor you really like take on a character or be involved in a movie that, for whatever reason, doesn’t end up working for you can be an interesting experience in itself. I find myself in that very position with this fourth installment.

The movie I’ve decided to talk about this month, Unicorn Store (on Netflix), has the added bonus of being the directorial début of Brie Larson so, really, how could this feature go without it? We might debate the meaning of the movie’s underlying metaphor, or how well it’s served by the film’s super-flowery style but what’s undeniable is how much of a passion project this was for her. In an interview with IndieWire she describes Unicorn Store as “such a weird abstract portrait of myself. It feels like the most vulnerable I’ve been with this quirky, fun, lighthearted comedy.”

While Unicorn Store has always been a project associated with words like ‘quirky,’ ‘imaginative’ and ‘colorful,’ it hasn’t always been specifically a Larson-centric film. Circa 2012 Australian actress Rebel Wilson was cast as the lead and Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt; Cedar Rapids) was going to be the director. Larson had auditioned for a part but the production never got underway. An Oscar win for her dramatic turn in Lenny Abrahamson’s Room (2015) changed her fortunes. She was approached by the right people at the right time to not only play the lead but direct something that would turn out to be more of a personal journey of discovery.

Brie Larson as Kit in Brie Larson’s Unicorn Store

Role Type: Lead

Genre: Comedy/drama/fantasy

Premise: A woman named Kit receives a mysterious invitation that would fulfill her childhood dreams.

Character Background: Larson oscillates between gratingly infantile and winsome in the lead as Kit, an emotionally immature twenty-something who drops/fails out of art school and is forced to reassess her dreams of making it as an artist when she has to move back in with her parents. It’s a tricky balancing act that the seasoned actress for the most part pulls off, though there are moments when her acting feels a little forceful and stilted. Kit’s a millennial with a sense of entitlement, natch, but she’s also completely relatable in her fears of failure and disappointing the people she cares most about. I have to be completely honest and say this isn’t among my favorite performances of hers, but Larson always remains sincere in the role — one of the qualities about her acting that has always kept me coming back. She’s not quite as natural in this movie as she is in, say, Room or Short Term 12, but there’s a playfulness to this character that I really enjoyed.

Marvel at this Scene: 

This scene is not only an encapsulation of the awkwardness of Larson’s character (and the movie as a whole, actually), but it merges together perceptions in a brilliant (if cringe-inducing) way: the reality vs the fantasy. What we picture happening in our heads so often doesn’t work out that way in practice. Larson plays this off to great comedic effect. I love this scene. It’s so incredibly awkward.

Rate the Performance (relative to her other work): 



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10 thoughts on “The Marvelous Brie Larson — #4

    • Brie Larson is great isn’t she? She’s def among my favorites right now. Free Fire i really liked. Yeah, it didn’t really feel like a Ben Wheatley film but it was fun. Her role in it could well be what I talk about next

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      • I was actually about to mention Free Fire, it was fun and silly, but Brie stole the show.

        As for Wheatly, his new film looks very strange, I’m about to watch it. Its called ‘Happy New Year, Colin Burstead’ haha. Righto! No idea what its about, which is how I like it

        I don’t think he will top High Rise imo. Kill List was good, But with this last one, he didn’t work with Amy Jump. So I’m no expecting anything amazing..

        Brie was in Room too wasn’t she? That was great, I’ve been reading the book, once I finish it I need to watch it again


      • I was actually about to mention Free Fire, it was fun and silly, but Brie stole the show.

        As for Wheatly, his new film looks very strange, I’m about to watch it. Its called ‘An Elephant Sitting Still’ haha. Righto! No idea what its about though.

        I don’t think he will top High Rise imo.


        • Wait, an Elephant Sitting Still? Thought it was called — yeah, something also weird. Happy New Year Colin Burstead. Or something. Whatever haha! High Rise was a wicked movie, I really liked how obvious its criticism of society were. I think that’s what put some people off, it was so in-your-face. Free Fire was totally different, and totally why I liked it. Pure genre film and a classic case of schadenfreude. A bunch of bad people you can’t help but enjoy watching the shit hit the fan with

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          • hahaha i got those two titles mixed up. yeah that colin one I need to watch. As well as the Elephant one haha, but that one is foreign i think and way more obscure. I only know of it from reading Sight & Sound (good film rag btw, the only one I know of actually. Far from perfect tho)

            Totally with you on Free Fire. Just a ton of fun with awesome characters yelling out insults while trying to shoot each other. It was a riot! And High Rise… one of my favorite films of recent years. I liked how obvious the criticism was too, I don’t think that is a bad thing unless that obviousness turns into preachiness, which High Rise didn’t imo. Luke Evans was pure awesome in that one.

            btw bro, keep an eye out for my first post in over a month (gotta love bipolar baha, been stuck in bed 95% of the time for almost a month!), its an Aussie war film that imo is one of the best war films of the decade and is getting a theatrical release overseas. Limited I’m sure, but keep an eye out! =]

            Liked by 1 person

            • Cool man, definitely looking forward to reading That! Glad you’re feeling better or better enough to write something. Feel good bro.

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  1. Pingback: Month in Review: July ’19 | Thomas J

  2. This is definitely a weird little movie but I still found myself entertained throughout. Brie is a huge reason. Her character is certainly…unique (as that scene reminded me) but she plays it was such earnestness. She’s a hoot!

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    • Glad you enjoyed the film. I think I’m up for another round of it. Brie Larson is just kinda the best. I’m not at all hiding my bias towards her, she’s one of those few actors who seems truly down to earth and friendly. Unicorn Store is exciting because hopefully it’ll allow others to be brave and make their own quirky movie without fear of being called out on it. There’s so much monotony in the cinematic landscape that movies like these feel refreshing. Need more of them.

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