SYNOPSIS: In Barbie Land, you are a perfect being in a perfect world. Unless you’re in existential crisis, or you’re Ken.
Many ideas and parallels connected the box office fates of the long-awaited Oppenheimer And Barbie, whether by their joint release date, their mirror promotions, their presumed opposite target audiences or the singularity of their artistic proposals within the filmographies of their authors. Indeed, the famous “Barbenheimer” (neologism-suitcase representing the antinomic fusion of the two films) would never have had such an impact if they were not, each in its own way, already small events in the careers of Christopher Nolan and of Greta Gerwig. On the one hand, Nolan recomposes his cinema by simplifying his narration, reshaping his metaphysical obsessions at the center of a one-sided plot around the concerns of a single man (unlike the spatial grandiloquence ofInterstellar or temporal manipulations of its complex tenet). The other, Gerwig is signed by Mattel to adapt their flagship product for the cinema, thus offering to plunge the firm into a philosophical introspection of contemporary society. The two directors, all the more complementary within modern American auteur cinema, then touch on a rare situation in the history of the 7th Art by placing their cameras on a dense and diversified artistic spectrum, reasons for already proven by the respective success figures of the films at the Box Office.
And yet, the excellent feedback from the project of Greta Gerwig are not so much of a surprise, as it already had everything to seduce a very wide range of spectators from its start. If it seems at first sight to be only a marketing opportunity for Mattel who struggle to put their dolls back in the center of the dialogue, Barbie ventures however far from the calm waters in which he could have taken no risk. By coveting the director Greta Gerwig (ultra-promising face of contemporary indie female cinema to whom we already owe the magnificent lady bird and the luminous rehabilitation of Daughters of Doctor March), accompanied in writing by her partner in life and usual collaborator at work Noah Baumbach (acclaimed director of The Berkmans break up, Frances Ha or Marriage Story) – a duo that already gives a clear hint of the tone the film will adopt – Mattel plays at ambitioning more than an Imax ad, thus offering its authors the possibility of making their Barbie the witness of a changing world and of a new generation which must appropriate the symbols of the past.
This Barbie 2023 follows the barbie adventures of Barbiea Barbie living in Barbieland with a whole bunch of other Barbiea string of Ken and one and only allan. OUR Barbie Central girl, endowed with the face of Margot Robbie, is one day taken aback by a series of disasters that confuse her perfectly orderly life. These events lead her to join the real world, on the other side of Venice Beach, to solve her problems and find her perfect daily life in Barbieland. Accompanied in spite of herself by a Ken Ryan-Goslingesque obsessed with the desire to please his girlfriend, Barbie will face the disappointment of a reality more violent than she imagined, even as she finds herself pursued by the boss of Mattel who seeks to send her home… This highly fanciful plot, source of a hilarious series of situational gags and intellectual reflections on the cruelty of the world and the startling imperfections that tear it apart, is then built around the style of Greta Gerwig, who enjoys leaving the field open to his cast. Margot Robbie, possessed by a role of a very unsuspected and deeply disarming depth in its final mouthpieces, is the beating heart of the film, single-handedly propelling the feature film light years away from the idea of the cardboard commercial lazy than many imagined. But, despite the amazing performances of the rest of the troupe assembled by the director, it’s obviously Ryan Gosling who steals all the laurels, perhaps finding one of the masterpieces of his career with his Ken, sweet archetypal loser with dazzling fairness and joyful expressiveness, source of an astronomical amount of laughter within this merry nest of absurdities. Its comic power, yet more to prove for years (is it enough to see or see again Crazy, Stupid, Love, The Nice Guysor probably his best role ever in the sketch Papyrus shot for the SNL), is once again brilliant, and accompanies the thematic ideas in the reversals of the second part of the film.
Because, by feeding on the flashy and referenced decorations of Sarah Greenwoodexuberant and delightfully over-the-top costumes from Jacqueline Durran, from the soundtrack of Mark Ronson And Andrew Wyatt which is accompanied by a slew of big names in modern pop (Nicky Minaj, Ice Spice, Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Charlie XCX, Tame Impala, Sam Smith, Ava Max and many others) and the refined yet visually overloaded photography led by Rodrigo Prieto, Barbie does not only propose to send its central figure into the philosophical meanders of patriarchy and its implications on pop-culture. The scenario of Gerwig And Baumbachby deconstructing the expected clichés and making the journey obvious in its unfolding, succeeds with great talent in building a highly feminist narrative that tends to set the record straight when everyone tends to talk long, wide and across subjects monstrously more complex than what sometimes appears. Barbie has the intelligence to be brilliantly accessible, but also frighteningly universal by its double narrative which gives two well-conducted evolutions to the two main characters of the film. Barbie, and her quest for answers, which turns into a fight against the violence of opportunist patriarchy, returns to the central questions that run through women’s daily lives, without ever appearing pretentious or empty of substance. On the other side, Ken captures the unstable and slightly absurd nature of a man who has not found his place or his identity, offering him a more than precious lesson by granting him the possibility of finding for himself who he wants to be beyond the archetypes. Because this Barbie, excellent and delicious candy of humor, freshness and reflection, delights us in its fundamental treatment of stereotypes. By playing it the way The Great Lego Adventure in a setting fashioned for a musical by Jacques Demy, Greta Gerwig plunges into the innocence of childhood and naive dreams of hope to break down the patriarchal gaze by turning it around with an openness and an obvious vitality. Carried by a cast charged with images and backfiring colors (the Barbies Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Emma Mackey, Hari Nef And Alexandra Shippthe Kens Simu Liu, Scott Evans, Ncuti Gatwa And Kingsley Ben-Adir, past Perfect Allan Michael Cera – true MVP of the film – the boss of Mattel Will Ferrellthe very real mother-daughter duo America Ferrara/Ariana Greenblattor even the meta narrator Helen Mirren), This Barbie editing Gerwig is a hilarious and absurdly pop sandbox, revitalizing the innocent and troubled period of childhood and the search for identity in the service of an improbably colorful and densely referenced quest under the umbrella of a popular spectacle as satisfying as ‘he is intelligent. But of course, we are not surprised. Not at all…