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Barbie review – Ryan Gosling is plastic fantastic in ragged doll comedy - BlogBookMark.com - Welcome Press "Enter" to skip to content

Barbie review – Ryan Gosling is plastic fantastic in ragged doll comedy

Greta Gerwig’s bubblegum-fun-***-feminist-thesis indulges Ken but pulls its punches as it trips between satire and advert

Are Barbie dolls demeaning or empowering? Director Greta Gerwig and her co-writer Noah Baumbach opt for the latter theory in this beamingly affectionate and deliriously pink-themed fantasy comedy-adventure produced by Barbie’s corporate manufacturer Mattel, and starring Margot Robbie whose own superhuman blond beauty makes her the only possible casting as Barbie herself. It is maybe down to Gerwig’s confidence and generosity as a feminist film-maker that she gives all the best lines to Ryan Gosling, who is allowed to steal the whole film playing Barbie’s non-genitaled boyfriend, Ken.

Yet the film has to keep second-guessing and pre-empting the anti-Barbie impulse with a stream of knowing references and self-aware meta-gags, which acknowledge that, sure, yes, Barbie’s uber-blond-slim persona is arguably conformist and oppressive, but we know all that, we’re past all that; these charges are redeemed by Barbie’s ethereal innocence and there is in any case now a range of Barbies, diverse in terms of ethnicity and body-image – among whom Robbie is first among equals as Stereotypical Barbie – including a wheelchair-using Barbie. But even this is hedged with a quirky admission that the real world that imposed these changes is still itself imperfect and tokenist.

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