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Bollywood Movie Reviews

Barbie Is Sunny Splashy & Dishy



Rating: ***

There is an art-stopping moment in this mischievous merger  of  myth and  reality where  the  beautiful Margot Robbie sobs that she  is no longer  beautiful.

Here  director  Greta Gerwig makes a  voice intervention to say the above self-criticism is invalid since Margot Robbie is  the one saying  it.

Self-awareness and inhouse jokes  form a major and decisive chunk of  the narrative .

Not having  played with  Barbie  dolls I am not as familiar with this Pink Goddess’ various avatars as the girls of all ages  in the theatre who laughed  and giggled each time a  new Barbie was introduced . They got the point before the uninitiated .

Damn! Basically the great great Greta Gerwig(who’s the better filmmaker, Gerwig or her  husband Noah Baumbach who has co-written Barbie with his  wife?) enters the very plastic  very pink,  very feminine  world  of Barbie dolls, and subverts  the  fairytale  perfection to tell us that children must not  follow the  ideals of  Barbieland: it can be severely damaging to the selfesteem.

Nothing gets seriously damaged  in Ms Gerwig’s  wonderfully  unreal(not to be mistaken for surreal) world , populated  by various Barbies and Kens, the chief among them being  the ones played by the gorgeous  Margot Robbie  and the sporting Ryan Gosling. The  latter plays  a startling  amusing version of the macho characters he played in  his earlier films.

Gosling’s Ken is insecure and a closet sexist. It all comes tumbling out when he  accompanies Barbie to the  real  world where she must find the girl who is mind-fucking her “stereotype doll” image.The fantasy-reality alternate worlds merge  into  one another.

Now we see the dolls in their natural habitat(Barbieland). Now we see them in  our world where Barbie undergoes  a  reductive meltdown.

It is  as if the Mattl- manufactured doll merges into Ibsen’s universe. Greta  Gerwig’s immaculately  imagined world is trippy and treacly.At one point we meet the woman who invented  the Barbie  doll. Somehow the  moments of epiphany are  not as  rousing as they should be. It is , to put it paradoxically,  a very real  vision  of an very unreal world.

Joining  the  muted merger of myth and feminism is a Spanish-American woman Gloria(America Ferrera) and her eye-rolling teenage daughter Sasha(Ariana Greenblatt).

Barbie brings the  mother-daughter  from  the real world  to Barbieland. At this point the airy tongue-in-cheek  screenplay  doesn’t know what to do with them. Quickly the screenplay  floats from fey to  forced as Ken , enamoured of  the prevalent patriarchy that he has witnessed in the realworld,  plots to take over  Barbieland from the ladies.

This is  all very politically vibrant and pointedly,  sometimes way  to self consciously woke.At one point when Barbie finds  a bunch of men in the real world leering at her , she reminds them she has no vagina. At the end she is shown visiting a gynecologist’s clinic, presumably for a sexual identity.

The  journey from plastic to  paushtik(wholesome) is thereby completed. Ah men!



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