BARBIE (2023) exposes the best of worlds

The film's brave exploration of identity, the perils of toxic masculinity, and the power of female empowerment spark conversations and will - probably - be a future reference in post-modern feminist narratives.
Orly Agawin

BARBIE (2023), the latest from director and co-writer Greta Gerwig, is a blend of technical brilliance and emotional vibrance. It enchants with its clever fusion of escapism and inspiring themes, worth a conversation, even after you step out of the cinema.

Barbie (Margot Robbie), finds herself facing an existential crisis despite being the most popular Barbie in Barbieland. In search of understanding her true purpose, she takes on a journey to the human world. Accompanying her is her sort of boyfriend, Ken (Ryan Gosling), whose existence seemingly relies on Barbie's recognition of him. Throughout their adventure, both Barbie and Ken encounter harsh truths that lead them to make new friends and experience enlightening moments along the way.

Gerwig and her team bring the world of Barbies to life, filling them with infectious energy and wit. Bursting with meticulous details, BARBIE is a visual wonderland that demands multiple viewings to appreciate its compelling visual design. Jacqueline Durran's astonishing costume design and Sarah Greenwood's vibrant production design breathe life into this ever-evolving icon, while Rodrigo Prieto's cinematography offers a glossy allure in every frame.

The film goes beyond hilarity, generously sprinkling laugh-out-loud moments throughout its pink-hued realm. Gerwig's artistic vision melds the Barbie universe with the complexities of our reality, creating a playful yet meaningful narrative. Barbie's journey is a delightful exploration of identity and self-discovery. Robbie's performance is a balanced masterclass, blending satire with sincerity, while Ryan Gosling shines as Ken by infusing the character with endearing frailty and comedic gusto.

BARBIE celebrates its feminist themes and acknowledges the complexities of Barbie's image, addressing the impact on young girls' body perceptions. The film's approach doesn't stop critiquing the corporate world's attempts at promoting diversity and inclusivity while still deeply entrenched in systemic gender norms. With cleverly woven humor and clever pop culture references, the supporting cast exposes the irony of the situation, highlighting the incongruity between their supposed commitments and the inevitable impact of their actions.

However, despite its exhilarating start, the film falters when delving into more profound themes in the second act. The narrative occasionally gets bogged down in explaining its themes, slightly losing the breezy charm that initially captivated viewers in the first act. A poignant speech about the challenges of womanhood strikes a personal chord but feels heavy-handed, and too preachy.

Nevertheless, BARBIE manages to weave a crowd-pleasing cinematic spectacle with considerable substance. It strikes a balance between entertainment and meaningful reflection. The film's brave exploration of identity, the perils of toxic masculinity, and the power of female empowerment spark conversations and will - probably - be a future reference in post-modern feminist narratives. And while it may not be a perfect film, its audacious approach leaves quite an impact as it gives more than color and form.

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