The Toronto International Film Festival is mostly about cinema (obviously). But TIFF isn’t only about films. There are parties to attend, stars to spot on the street, and brand activations everywhere. It’s high time for all aspects of TIFF to get the same critical attention as the films.
Welcome to FASHION Reviews Everything TIFF-related. While this might not be an entirely comprehensive appraisal—it’s as impossible to be at every party as it is to see every film— if we attend anything linked to the Toronto International Film Festival in anyway, we’ll review it here.
After a weekend full of dark period films (this is TIFF after all), Brie Larson’s quirky, candy coloured “Unicorn Store” was everything I needed on a Monday afternoon. I laughed, I laughed, I unexpectedly sobbed, and I laughed again. It was emotional, hilarious, and full of heart. AND, it had sparkles. So many sparkles.
First stop on my three-part “Unicorn Store” review was Nesspresso’s intimate “Coffee and Creators” event, which gave us the opportunity to hear about the Oscar-winning actress’ directorial debut up-close. I’m just going to go ahead and drop Larson’s answer to my favourite question from the Q&A here:
A lot of films at TIFF this year have political undertones and are varying degrees of depressing. But it seems like there’s quite a bit of positivity in Unicorn Store.
Yeah! It’s kind of aggressively positive. That was first a choice I made selfishly, because I had made a lot of darker films that were about showing the dark corners of the world, and that’s a really important task for filmmakers to take. We need that. When you’re in a theatre, you’re emphasizing, you’re watching, you’re becoming somebody else who has a different background than you. But in all of that I was starting to lose this part of me, that was like this inner child that was needing something, that was needing to not feel like the world was totally falling apart. What’s available to us at all times is childlike play and innocence. Even in the face of things that are scary, in the face of darkness…it’s still there. So at the time I was making it as a way to restore my own faith in myself and in the experience of making a movie that wasn’t so much about, “God how am I going to get through crying for eight hours today?” and instead was, “Who can make each other laugh the most today.”
Isn’t that amazing? I think it’s one of the more insightful comments I’ve heard from an actor or director at TIFF. Sometimes you just want to laugh at kale jokes and cry over unicorns — and there is nothing wrong with that.
The motif of joy, laughter, rainbows and glitter followed through to the premiere. Those in the audience were verrrryyy excited about this film: I’ve never seen so many people clap along joyously to the beat of a pre-screening commercial. It’s like everyone thought ABBA was about to come on stage to perform. We were laughing, hooting, hollering and sobbing throughout the film, which follows the story of Kit, an art-school dropout who doesn’t want to grow up. She tried to: Kit puts on her mom’s skirt suit, takes on a temp job, and forces herself to drink black coffee. Then, she gets an invite to the Unicorn Store and is offered her very own unicorn. It’s pretty much just as kooky and whimsical as it sounds.
Most of the reviews I’ve read about the film have been critical — and those reviews are primarily from middle-age dudes. While, rationally, I can understand their complaints — and I will grant that the chemistry between Larson and Mamoudou Athieplayed, who plays a potential love interest for Kit, just isn’t there — these critics misunderstood the film. To those who complain that the film is too fluffy and twee: what did you expect? I think it’s safe to say that these film critics are safely outside Unicorn Store‘s demo.
For once, this isn’t a movie isn’t for them. But for a 22-year-old girl who lives with her parents, thinks cubicles are scary, and eats pizza three times a week, Kit’s story was hella relatable. I hate the idea of being an adult, and I still throw hissy fits (with tears) when I find out my mom has donated by stuffed animals and scrapbooking supplies. So ya, this was a movie for people like me.
Larson also touched on this at Nespresso’s “Coffee and Creators”. “I’m going to make a film that’s extremely feminine and soft,” the 27-year-old actress said, “and I’m going to ask men to take a step forward and enter my space. I’ve entered your space for most of my life; you can the step and enter my space this time.” Preach girl. I hope you continue making movies with a rainbow-confetti aesthetic. I will go see ALL OF THEM.
One man more than willing to enter Larson’s pink, frilly, feminine space was Samuel L. Jackson. In the post-premiere Q&A, Larson called the iconic actor — who plays the Unicorn Store salesman — her “Fairy Godmother,” citing how he will check in if she’s not Instagramming enough. Jackson co-starred with Larson on Kong: Skull Island, and when he found about her film he stormed into her dressing room to demand the part. When Samuel L. Jackson insists on a major role in your directorial debut, you know you’re someone special. After a close encounter with the actress-turned-director, I can confirm: Brie Larson is definitely someone special.
— Glitter, sparkles and rainbows
— Laugh, laugh, cry, laugh
— Growing up is scary
— Samuel L. Jackson is Brie Larson’s “Fairy Godmother”
Rating:🍭 ✨ 🌈 🍦 💖
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