"Rebellious Teenage Romance Becomes Abusive"
I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS is a coming-of-age drama about a strong-willed female’s first encounter with love despite her pressing obligations to care for her disabled mother. I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS contains too much edgy, teenage rebellion, including the depiction of a boyfriend who becomes abusive.
Davina (Natalia Dyer) is a dreamy teenager who fantasies about escaping her depressing life at home where she is the sole caretaker for her wheelchair bound mom. Like a child, she escapes each night into her dreamland filled with mythical creatures such as unicorns and longing for a charming prince to save her from her depressing home life.
Just when she least expects it, Sterling (Peter Vack), an enigmatic skateboarder, walks into her life. He catcher her eye after school, and she goes to talk to him. The delight in a flirtatious conversation soon escalates into much more.
Sterling invites her to a rock concert, and Davina happily accepts. Surrounded by partygoers, with the hint of alcohol on their breath, Davina loses her virginity to Sterling. She thinks he could be her prince charming, but Davina is rudely awakened when he practically ignores her the next time he sees her. Yet, like a typical young teenage girl, this only fuels her desire to make herself more appealing to him. She continues to hang around him, and they soon begin dating.
Davina is lost in her own world as everything, including her disabled mother’s needs, are placed on the back burner for her newfound feelings of love. Desperate for change and adventure, Davina joins Sterling on an impromptu road trip filled with lots of sex, kissing and motel rooms. However, the more time Davina spends with Sterling, she learns he’s not the person she thought. Sterling opens up to Davina about his abusive father, a trait she begins to believe he might have inherited too.
Along their road trip, Sterling slowly becomes more hostile, often yelling, shaking, and forcing her to sleep with him. Davina once desperate to get out, begging him to take her back home.
When Davina arrives back home, she returns to tend to her crippled mother. No words are said, as the mother’s tender smile conveys that she forgives her daughter for running away from home. A mutual understanding is expressed through their actions, where Davina has come to realize the person that will always love her most is Mom.
I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS is Leah Meyerhoff’s first feature as a filmmaker. This deeply personal drama showcases her talent for storytelling. The story follows two teenagers first take on love while doing so in an honest manor. It makes no attempt to sugarcoat an unhealthy relationship and highlights the dark sides in Davina and Sterling’s relationship. Despite the strong storytelling component, its use of cartoon unicorns and dreamy voiceovers intersected throughout pivotal moments take away from some good scenes. The actors do a good job, but this unusual choice of realism with cartoon images gives the movie a child-like quality.
I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS is unacceptable viewing. Though it has a redemptive ending, the theme of teenage rebellion and excessive images of Davina and Sterling rolling around in bed together among various motels, haystacks and a car are too unpalatable. Also, Sterling becomes brash and spiteful toward Davina, to the point of forcing her to sleep with him as they continue their travels on the road. As the movie progresses, however, it shows Sterling had an abusive father who left him when he was a little boy. This is no excuse, however, for his behavior later on in the movie.
I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS also contains some underage drinking and some strong foul language.
(PaPa, RoRo, B, C, LL, V, SS, NN, AA, MM) Strong, slightly mixed pagan worldview about coming of age and an increasingly abusive boyfriend, with some strong Romantic and pagan content and some moral, redemptive elements such as forgiveness, and teenage girl shows some compassion as she cares for her disabled mother; 18 obscenities and profanities (including some “f” words); some disturbing violence includes uncomfortable scene where boyfriend slams girl on the bed and forces her to have sexual relations with him, light domestic violence when guy gets angry, teenage male pushes his girlfriend and grabs her forcefully by the arms; strong sexual content including forced fornication, teenage boy and girl run their hands over each others bodies often, boy and girl roll around in bed together wearing their undergarments, boy and girl kiss and make out, implied nudity with girl shirtless under covers; rear male nudity as boy takes pants off in front of his girlfriend; alcohol displayed at party, under age youth drinking beer and getting drunk; no smoking or drug use; and, strong miscellaneous immorality includes teenage rebellion, bad young male role model, teenage boy and girl run away from home without telling anybody and leaving the girl’s crippled mother alone, lovers shoplift on road trip.
I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS is an edgy coming-of-age drama about a strong-willed teenage girl who looks for salvation in a relationship with an older guy to escape caring for her disabled mother. Davina is a dreamy teenager, who fantasies about escaping her depressing life at home where she’s the sole caretaker for her mother. Like a child, she escapes each night into a fantasy world, dreaming of a prince charming. She meets Sterling, an enigmatic skateboarder with whom she runs away. However, Sterling is haunted by his past involving an abusive father and becomes abusive himself.
I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS has some competent acting and storytelling, but plays more like a poem than a movie. It uses voiceovers, cartoon unicorns and whimsical shots of nature. The movie has some positive redemptive, moral content, especially in the beginning and toward the end, but it takes a dramatic turn in the middle where the teenagers become rebellious and the boyfriend becomes abusive. I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS also contains some underage drinking and strong foul language. So, despite a positive ending, it’s unacceptable viewing.