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SXSW rewind review: 'I Believe in Unicorns'

Peter Vack and Natalia star in the coming-of-age romance drama "I Believe in Unicorns."
Peter Vack and Natalia star in the coming-of-age romance drama "I Believe in Unicorns."
Chloe Aftel

I Believe in Unicorns

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We all believe in something. Fairy tales, true love, unicorns...

It just so happens the teenage Davina (Natalia Dyer) in SXSW standout "I Believe in Unicorns" (a.k.a. "Unicorns") believes in all three of these things.

Especially unicorns.

Forced to grow up quickly and take care of her disabled mother, Davina often finds her mind and attention escaping into a fantasy world made up of her as a princess with a unicorn at her side.

That fantasy world in her mind becomes real when she meets her first lover, an older skater boy named Sterling (Peter Vack). Sterling is tall, long haired and handsome and Davina unsurprisingly falls head-over-heels in love for the first time.

However, as much as her fairy tale mind wants to believe Sterling is her prince charming, Sterling is not everything he seems to be.

As the young romance begins to hit its inevitable bumps, one would expect the seemingly naive Davina to not be able to handle the increasing stress of a crumbling romance. Thanks to the writing of writer/director Leah Meyerhoff, Davina is anything but naive.

While Davina is obviously inexperienced when it comes to love, Meyerhoff's writing gives Davina a strong head and will which is missing from even the most heralded young female characters in film today. While Davina doesn't always make the perfect decision, she doesn't make the stupid one either and gives young teenagers who are battling adversity someone to look up to.

When discussing "I Believe in Unicorns," it's impossible to not mention the beautiful stop-motion animation fantasy sequences that help tell the film's story in a fresh and unique looking way. Used to mark transitions in both the story and the relationship between Davina and Sterling, the gorgeous sequences help tie in the harsh realities of life depicted in the film with Davina's bright imagination making the film feel tight knit and impeccably crafted.

Selected to compete in the Dallas International Film Festival narrative feature competition in April and fresh off a successful conclusion to a Kickstarter campaign on Wednesday, "I Believe in Unicorns" looks to further spread Davina's coming-of-age story to more film festival audiences throughout the state of Texas and the country.

I anticipate many more people will believe in unicorns very soon.