On paper, the film clearly didn’t excite me. But I trusted Greta Gerwig, who signed the excellent Lady Bird in 2018.
The film begins in Barbie Land, a picture-perfect kingdom in which Barbie seems to live an idyllic life. Until the day when everything no longer goes well, and various troubles push her to travel to the real world in the company of Ken.
I really feared the humor of the film, which I felt was extremely overplayed and caricatured. Basically, a good fat American gag. And the first 20-30 minutes is more or less exactly that.
So of course it’s extremely beautiful and creative, the costumes and especially the craftsmanship of the sets/models is incredible. But every gag falls apart, and we tell ourselves that we’re going to spend two interminable hours in some kind of bad American commercial.
And there the miracle , our two protagonists arrive in the real world, and of course it is still overplayed (as the universe wants), but we begin to criticize the patriarchy through much finer and more clever valves than previously.
It makes fun of the male/female relationship in our society, down to very daring (but absolutely incredible) jokes and punchlines.
The film then builds to a crescendo, almost without ever running out of steam, until a MEMORABLE final choreography (roughly speaking, an impossible mess).
The company Mattel, creator of the dolls in real life, is also mocked in the film. Belle is actually described as a company largely run by men, while it tries to understand and represent young girls.
However, let’s not be naive, this self-criticism is not very unkind, and the film remains very much a promotional tool for their image . Basically we show that we are super cool as a company because we are self-deprecating.
When we also see the hundreds of derivative objects (dolls, clothes, etc.) offered on Mattel’s online stores, we understand that the self-deprecation in the film is only window dressing compared to the real ones. financial and capitalist ambitions of the brand .
She also produced the film herself, so she knows very well what she is doing. And it works, since sales are exploding in the United States.
It’s still damn cynical to hide this behind a criticism of the current problems in our society. One wonders if the designs were not thought out for the merch rather than for the film itself…
The fact remains that the film offers a relevant and necessary feminist discourse . Margot Robbie is always great, and the entire cast plays to perfection (except perhaps the teenager).
But we really have to mention the performance of Ryan Gosling , who bursts the screen literally every second of his presence. Almost all of his jokes hit the mark, and it’s amazing when you see how sick the role and the jokes are. For me it’s a potential Oscar (really).
It is therefore very difficult to form a definitive and precise opinion on the film as it plays on a very fine line, oscillating between a very caricatured universe, and a desire for clever and critical writing.
Would I recommend it? Clearly yes, but you can probably love as easily as you can hate. And then a film that is so feminist, written and directed by a woman, is sustainable.