Film “Barbie” by Greta Gerwig: Review

our opinion on the film “barbie” by greta gerwig
our opinion on the film “barbie” by greta gerwig

This fuchsia film, a mixture of absurdity, humor and absolute relevance, in theaters on July 19, 2023, blew us away.

During the press screenings organized for the journalists, the cinemas are generally rather calm. From time to time, a small chuckle or a sniffle (often mine) testify to the discreet emotion that gradually soaks the rows of armchairs. However, during the screening of the film Barbie directed by Greta Gerwig, frank bursts of laughter agitated the public, moving from one seat to another like waves of good humor.

That’s what we had expected, this production. Teased and re-teased via all possible channels for months, she’s already been the subject of dozens of fashion collaborations, from Zara to Crocs , while Margot Robbie has been making appearances in totally Barbie-esque outfits. Encouraged by these surges of nostalgia and explosions of pastel, how many of us have not rooted out the turquoise plane, the pink Corvette or the Dreamhouseplastic from a cardboard box, to revisit the time when Barbie watched over our imaginary games and waited for us under the Christmas tree? In theaters from July 19, 2023, the feature film was timidly unveiled on Instagram, then in a promising but enigmatic trailer released in April. And since this titanic project has been entrusted to Greta Gerwig (director of Lady Bird or even The Daughters of Doctor March ), one could wonder: will she infuse a feminist discourse into this plasticized universe?

The film reveals our current societal challenges

The answer is simple: yes, completely. And rather than being undermined by the stiletto heels, the pink houses and the Colgate smiles of the dolls, the feminist message is highlighted by a relevant mirror game between the world of Barbie and ours. With a lot of humor, repartee, a touch of irony and a dose of euphoric nostalgia, the film presents both an allegory of adolescence and an absurd utopia that reveals our current societal issues. In addition, the scenario is narrated by the talented actress Helen Mirren, whose tone oscillates between that of the fairy tale and pure sarcasm. Bright.

The pitch in two words

With everything going for the best (as usual) in Barbieland , the so-called “stereotypical” Barbie doll, played by Margot Robbie, begins to perceive anomalies in her perfect daily life. Very anxious, she discovers that a breach has opened between her spangled world and human reality. The heroine thus begins a dangerous journey towards the real world, in order to restore what she thinks is the natural order of things.

Her plans don’t quite go as planned, however, and Barbie will make discoveries that will transform her perspective on her life. Meanwhile, Ken (Ryan Gosling), madly in love with her, struggles to follow her everywhere and win her affection. Once he arrives in Los Angeles, he too will take a completely different look at the world, to the chagrin of the Barbies…

The decor is fabulous

We promise, this article does not contain spoilers. We will only reveal to you that Greta Gerwig’s cinematic pink diamond does not disappoint our expectations in terms of design. If you have, once in your life, played with a Barbie, a flood of memories will not fail to invade your captivated spirit. The details are perfectly cared for and we really believe it. From the realistic outfits (modeled on real Mattel clothes) to the objects that dot the dolls’ doorless and windowless homes, it’s like stepping into a Barbie booklet. One thing is certain: the scriptwriters really looked into the reality of these toys and their accessories, in order to recreate the same atmosphere in life-size.

Talented actors and actresses such as America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon (brilliant in her role of “Bizarre Barbie”), Simu Liu, Emma Mackey, Michael Cera, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Hari Nef, Ariana Greenblatt or even Ncuti Gatwa thus evolve in a dazzlingly colored setting over which the Barbies reign as empresses. The Kens, they are relayed in the background, but have outfits just as elaborate and an equally excessive good mood. Fashion fans and experts in the history of Barbie, you will love it.

Ken (aka Ryan Gosling), from shadow to light

Margot Robbie shines, of course, impeccable in her role as queen of plastic, past master of pointe shoes to imitate the shape of Barbie’s frozen feet. She plays the role of an innocent Candide with platinum blond hair, initiated into human life and all its complex emotions. Through her eyes, Greta Gerwig paints an intelligent portrait of feminism, the objectification of women and the immense pressures that weigh on them today, even as the fight for equality gains momentum.

But this feminist message would not be complete without the role of Ken, played by Ryan Gosling. Telling you more details would spoil the film for you, but let’s point out that the performance of the 42-year-old comedian is surprising – in the best sense of the word. In the skin of a symbol of masculine clichés, he embodies them with energy before pulverizing them in an unexpected way. A little ridiculous, sometimes pathetic, often annoying and almost always hilarious, he agrees to slip into this pivotal role written with intelligence, full of stereotypes. Going from Drive ‘s adrenaline to Ken’s neon roller skates is a masterful split. Only a talented actor would have accepted – and succeeded – such a bet. Ryan Gosling seems to have landed the role of his life.

A slew of characters

Special mention also for the endearing character of Allan, supposed to be Ken’s best friend, a real Mattel doll created in 1964 and which has only ever been produced in one version. Embodied by Michael Cera, he defies clichés while conquering our hearts. (In the French version, Allan borrows his voice from videographer Sébastien Frit.) America Ferrera (heroine of Ugly Betty ), for her part, signs a touching performance with which many women will be able to identify.

Indeed, each protagonist (and there are many!) has his own personality, his own passion and his unique inner life. No character is totally perfect and none of the “antagonists” are totally evil. Far from being Manichean, the Barbie film moves away from clear-cut conclusions and proves that another approach is much more effective. Our only regret is that these many characters only make very brief appearances (the scenes of Dua Lipa as a mermaid, voiced by Lena Mahfouf in the French version, are very fleeting), which hinders the development of their personal stories. It would have taken a five-hour film to elaborate everything… and we would have watched it with pleasure.

A tribute to Barbie

If you are about to go to the movies, we advise you to quickly review the story of the doll and its evolution over the decades. Indeed, the film presents the qualities and the defects of the Barbie universe, which tried to modernize itself and to be more inclusive. Many details present in the feature film also refer to real events or outfits imagined by Mattel, with a nod to the story of the creation of Barbie by a scene as touching as it is unusual. Most of the time, Helen Mirren’s narration gives us all the necessary information… but some nuggets may escape us if we ignore the character’s history.

In short, Greta Gerwig has won her bet hands down, with incredible thought and precision. The film is so rich that we can’t wait to see it a second time. A masterpiece of humor and relevance. And all that, under the plastic palm trees of Barbieland .