Barbie is on Sky Primafila. The review of the film with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling

“You make me spin like a doll,” sang Patty Pravo. Nonetheless, the Mattel fashion doll, marketed starting from March 9, 1959, made the world and the economy go round. So transfiguring Barbie in a film, even with real actors, could be as complex as cooking a Barolo stew. Yet, the film was a box office triumph. And now the film is available starting from Tuesday 12 September 2023. It goes without saying, many ideas of dolls on the big screen have passed under the bridge, starting from the first project dated 2008, before the film directed by Greta Gerwig (Little Women; Lady Bird) saw the light. As we know, there are very few certainties in life, namely, death, mosquitoes in summer and taxes. However, we believe this is the best possible cinematic Barbie in the worst of all possible worlds.

Barbie, the plot of the movie

All the Barbies in the world are beautiful. Especially if they tautologically live in Barbieland. A place where today is the most beautiful day of all, as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. A time marked by a perpetual and gigantic party with all the Barbies, embellished with prepared choreographies and a song written specifically for the purpose. “How cool!”, as that beautiful tome by Ken (Ryan Gosling) would comment, the perennial gregarious man with the standard abdominal turtle and a beach as a friend. In this pleasant middle ground it is always girls’ day. Especially for the Stereotype Barbie (Margot Robbie), the toy without quality, excluding the president Barbie, the supreme court judge Barbie, the Nobel Prize Barbie and so on and so forth. But the unexpected, like the tamarro around the corner sung by Elio and the stories tense in Shpalman it is always lurking. Just think about dying and the valley of the dolls falls apart. The little doll gets flat feet (how horrible!) and even cellulite (horror multiplied to the nth degree!). Bye Bye perfection. The only way to salvation is a journey to discover reality, perhaps in the company of the imperishable Ken. Except that the globe is a society of men and for men. So, will a fashion doll be able to change the rules of the game?

From 2001 A Space Odyssey to Matrix

Citing one another is very rewarding when you are aware of the caliber of the person you are involving. And Greta Gerwig and her partner Noah Baumbach (Story of a marriage; White noise) know a lot about it, very long indeed. Postmodern enough already from the incipit they lovingly mock the initial sequence of 2001 A Space Odyssey set in the African Savannah. Dolls have been around since the dawn of time, from voodoo to the Native American kachina. And the game of mirrors and references between hominids, little girls and toys works like the drops of angostura in the negroni cocktail. The tribute to is also very valuable and hilarious Matrix with the weapon of mass seduction represented by the 12cm heel contrasted with the Birkenstock Arizona in brown leather, as well as the choice between the red pill and the blue pill. But cinematic Barbie also happily plunders all of Jacques Demy’s cinema (primarily the delightful Les Parapluies de Cherbourg), Saturday night fever (1977) e Grease – Brillantina (1978), Luxury women (1935), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Oklahoma! (1955), Red shoes (1948), An American in Paris (1951), Singing in the raina (1952), All That Jazz – Let the show begina (1979) and last but not least Truman Show (1995). The array of quotes and tributes makes the film even more appetizing than cod in a side salad.

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling: Barbie and Ken to the rescue

Sorry for the beautiful and equally talented Anne Hathaway and Gal Gadot. But Barbie at the cinema could only transform into Margot Robbie. Already when she appears at the beginning of the film, she is as dominant and gigantic as the protagonist of the legendary B-Movie Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. The Australian star won game-match-match. As in underrated Babylon, the protagonist sheds bitter tears and we cry with her. Only an authentic actress can pretend to take a shower or drink a soft drink and still be credible, like David Hemmings in the imaginary tennis match with which she ends Blow-Up by Michelangelo Antonioni. If Roland Barthes were still alive he would most likely dedicate a chapter of Myths of today to the blonde diva’s face, as he did for Greta Garbo. So much so that when Barbie, in a crisis of self-esteem, defines herself as ugly, the voice-over (in the original version it is that of Helen Mirren) underlines how unbelievable the statement is if referring to a character played by Margot Robbie. And the pairing with Ryan Gosling works as well as strawberries paired with champagne. No stranger to taking on the role of the obtuse toyboy, the Canadian actor and musician entertains and intrigues. It is crazy for him to associate patriarchy with a passion for horses (moreover, the equines in Barbie recall the photographs Sallie Gardner at a Gallop by Eadweard Muybridge, cited in Nope) refers to the explosive and surreal comedy of Monthy Python. Michael Cera is also worth mentioning. In the guise of Allan, someone who counts less in Barbie’s cosmogony than the Indian gods Black Eyed Peas (as Club Dogo sang on the song Hello indeed).

Barbie, between irony and feminism

“Life is too important to be taken seriously,” wrote Oscar Wilde. So director Greta Gerwig chooses the path of lightness to lead us to the palace of awareness, given that she has to tell two lives: that of Barbieland, where women rule and the royal one, where man is lord and master. Of course it is an operation, not without cunning. Mattel tears its clothes, self-flagellates and represents itself through a group of vacuous, arrogant executives (and Will Ferrel as CEO of the company is hilarious). But the message reaches everyone. We laugh at the thought of Barbie Proust, lost in the madeleines and obviously bought by no one, and we reflect on the fact that the weird Barbie has the right answers. And the dazzling epiphany of the color pink (in the end it goes well with everything) makes even the most didactic and repeated sequences pleasant and witty. Also because it is not the cinematic transposition of a milestone of feminism like The second sex by Simon De Beavouir, but of the live action adaptation of the best-selling and most famous fashion doll in the world. Without excessive ambitions, Barbie plays with style, glamor and irony with clichés. A film that manages to give a soul to plastic and even to certain marketing operations. And between jokes, jokes, gags, jokes, rollerblades, top-level musical numbers and slippers with marabou feathers, the feature film offers food for thought on the society in which we live, on the masculine and the feminine. In short, we don’t think we could ask for more from a work starring a toy doll.