Barbie: Not just a doll

It is an entertaining film with perfect mix of style and substance. Greta Gerwing gives a feministic touch to the good old Barbie

Barbie (English)                    

Starcast: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Ariana Greenlatt and others

Director and writer: Greta Gerwig

Additional writer: Noah Baumbach

Based on: Barbie by Mattel

Producers: Robbie Greener, Tom Ackerley and others

 Music directors: Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt

Production companies: Mattel films, Heyday films and others

Genre: Fantasy comedy/drama

Running time: 1 hour and 54 minutes

Greta Gerwing created a strong niche for herself with the film Little Women (2019). This novel was adopted by several filmmakers but Greta brought her own distinct stamp. While staying true to the original she managed to bring a contemporary touch.

Ryan Gosling as the most important ken

Now she is back with the film Barbie based on the Barbie fashion dolls. Barbie is set in a fantasy land where everything is utopian. Greta uses this fantasy set up to explore different themes like patriarchy, capitalism, consumerism etc. Earlier also there were television films about Barbie fashion dolls but this one is very different from those.

Some of the Barbies in the Barbie land are just beautiful beings while others are writers, scientists etc. Though it is a matriarchal society there are kens (men) also in this world. Among them the most important ken is played by Ryan Gosling. Among the Barbies the central Barbie is played by Margot Robbie. She falls under the beautiful category. Ryan Gosling’s character aspires to be her boyfriend but she prefers only female friendships.

Things take a turn when Margot Robbie’s Barbie starts thinking about philosophical things like mortality. This leads to many thoughts and she is unable to go about her routine. The magic is gone. She goes to an elderly Barbie who tells her that she must travel to the real world to cure her affliction. Initially she is reluctant to go but later she decides to go. Ryan Gosling follows her without her knowledge. Later she comes to know and accepts him after some hesitation.

What follows is a journey of self discovery and how this trip to the real world turns out to be a life changing experience. For the first time she realises that she is being hated by the human world for her beauty specifications.

One of the best things about the film Barbie is how Greta Gerwing sets up this tale. She immerses the viewers into this fantasy land with brilliant support from costumes, art and set design along with cinematography. The viewers truly feel transported into the Barbie world.

Margot Robbie effortlessly switches from a beautiful doll to a woman of substance

Another aspect that stands out in Barbie is how Greta strikes the perfect balance between entertainment and message. There are many comic moments that leave you in splits. Most of these come from Ryan Gosling. His character goes through a wide arc from comic to emotional and the actor doesn’t miss a single beat. The best part of his performance is his absolute lack of vanity.

Among the characters in the real world the ones that stand out are America Ferrera as Gloria and the teenage daughter (Ariana Greenblatt). Mother and daughter have a strained relationship which changes at different stages. The scenes between them are poignantly written. They become a huge pillar of support for Barbie at a critical juncture. America Ferrera has some impactful dialogues. For example there is a scene where she gives a passionate speech about the contradictory nature of our society. She takes several digs at patriarchy where women are expected to do everything perfectly.

Will Ferrel as ///gloria’s boss

The aspect of consumerism has also come out well through the character of Will Ferrel who plays Gloria’s boss and the head of Mattel Company. It is the company that manufactures Barbies.

Margot Robbie is the perfect choice for the central character as she effortlessly switches from a beautiful doll to a woman of substance. She prefers to be a complete human being with all the imperfections rather than just being a beautiful doll.

The musical numbers of Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyaat are a delight to watch because of their unique staging.

Barbie is worth a watch for not just the kids but to all age groups.

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