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Florida Film Festival: I Believe in Unicorns

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I Believe in Unicorns


I Believe in Unicorns is a decent entry in the coming of age/doomed teenage love genre that works in some respects but is done in by overly languid pacing and a running time that would have benefited from a bit of serious trimming. Had this been cut down to a 20-25 minute short it would have been much more successful. As it stands, earnest performances from its leads and a rather unique visual style save it from being a completely mediocre film.

Natalia Dyer plays Davina, an introverted teenage girl who takes care of her wheelchair bound mother and whose vivid inner life is populated with unicorns and other mythical beasts, with herself the star attraction as a fairy princess. One day she meets Sterling (Peter Vack), a long-haired, skateboarding guitar player who is every parent's worst nightmare. It's love at first sight for Davina, and it's not long before Sterling has made defeat of her virginity, as the Bard says. Soon they run away from home and embark on an ambling road trip, with the romantic, reckless abandon that only clueless teenagers possess.

It's to writer/director Leah Meyerhoff's credit that the film steers clear of the obvious tropes of the genre in an attempt to inject false drama. Both kids are pretty normal teenagers with the usual issues, though Sterling is a bit more screwed up than Davina and there are a few tense moments where Sterling's anger bubbles to the surface and one wonders if Davina is in physical danger. The main narrative is peppered from scenes from Davina's imagination, where Sterling's explosive personality is personified by a unicorn and a dragon fighting to the death.

I'm really not the audience for a movie like this, and I imagine there are a number of people who will relate to Davina's experience. Both actors do an admirable job, particularly Natalia Dyer, who is more convincing as a girl desperately in love than Kristen Stewart could ever dream of. The pacing of the film is deathly slow, and had it been tightened up into a much shorter film this would have been a much more positive review.

For more info on the Florida Film Festival visit the official festival website. All my reviews from the festival can be found here.