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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Unicorns ****


Starring: Ben Hardy, Jason Patel, Hannah Onslow, Val The Brown Queen, Ali Afzal

Directors: Sally El Hosaini, James Krishna Floyd

Country: UK

UK Distributor: Signature Entertainment

 

A mechanic and a single father, Luke (Hardy – Bohemian Rhapsody, EastEnders) is struggling to make ends meet. On a night out, he meets Aysha (Patel) and there is immediate chemistry between them, but it isn’t until after they’ve kissed that he realises that she is actually a drag queen. Despite his initial panic, he can’t keep himself away from her, especially as she asks him to be her driver, paying him to take her to performance events across the region.


Patel gives a delectably authentic performance as the drag queen, whose makeup is her armour. Once the costume comes off, the boy underneath is vulnerable and shy, completely unsure of himself or his feelings. But through Aysha, Luke – and we – get to experience the glamorous, catty and secretive world of British “Gaysians”, where wealthy LGBT+ men gather behind closed doors to hide their sexuality from wives and their families.


On the flip-side, Hardy is gruff and hyper-masculine, statuesque in physique and guarded with his feelings. Both have been perfectly cast, but there’s something utterly compelling about watching the sparkle appear in Luke’s eye as he loses control over how he feels for Aysha. But this is so much more than a film about Queer romance.


Following a tragic event later in the film, the façade of the persona “Aysha” is shattered to pieces, forcing Luke to overcome his feelings about gender and prove himself beyond their secret encounters. And this is where the film finds its legs. With an empowering final act that confronts him with whether his love really can conquer all, questions of sexuality are just window-dressing around a crisis much greater than his own insecurities. And its finale delivers on that promise.


This is the kind of romance that will have you beaming from ear to ear. With likeable characters pitched against high stakes, you’ll fall in love alongside them. While its narrative might not be the most original in the world, this is a well-crafted genre movie that can comfortably rest on the talents of its actors, who instil a giant beating heart at the centre of this very watchable film.

 

UK Release: Limited release in VUE cinemas as part of Pride Month (check their website for details) before nationwide release from 5th July 2024.

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