Skip to content Skip to footer

Barbie Review

Who would have thought we’d be sitting here saying one of Cinema’s great social commentaries would come from (*checks notes*) a Barbie movie? Well, Greta Gerwig is who, as the director (yet again) sprinkles her magic dust, this time over the summer blockbuster. 

The Lady Bird & Little Women director has melded the emotional with the unapologetically silly – and the imaginative with the goofy – to create an overflowing cinematic cocktail, that once drunk, takes you on a downright weird existential trip through life as we all know it. 

Without plot spoilers, this defining social commentary comes down to a simple question Margot Robbie’s ‘stereotypical’ Barbie asks herself during the film’s sparkle-laden opening. “Do you ever think about dying?” I know…maybe a question and theme you’d be forgiven for attributing to the darker side of ‘Barbenheimer’. But maybe it’s not such a strange double bill after all? 

When both Gerwig and star Margot Robbie implored that this film is for ‘everyone’ they weren’t lying. Behind the lavish production & snappy-one liners, is a story with layers upon layers of meaning. Gerwig’s mind-boggling script (co-written with Noah Baumbach of Marriage Story) doesn’t have an inch of fat on it, seamlessly manoeuvring between downright popcorn fun and pulling on the heartstrings. And it reaches both by being an unashamedly meta explanation of modern gender norms and feminine & masculine realities, with worldly commentary so sharp you might cut yourself if you move too much in your seat. 

The greatest compliment I can pay to Gerwig’s genius is by highlighting a deeply poignant point in the story, in which the film’s narrator (voiced by Helen Mirren) says a comment so rooted in the moment, it’s as if she’s reached in and plucked it straight from your brain. Gerwig is playing 4D chess throughout, setting her characters and the audience up time after time, before turning it on its head, right up until the film’s outstanding final line. One joke, in particular, is sure to ruffle the feathers of one specific, tedious internet fandom. 

All that said, even a script this good still needs actors willing to buy into the whole thing. Actors who will find that lovely balance between downright silly and earnest, who know exactly what this film is and what it needs. And it truly is a bright, bold, and dazzling summer spectacle that invites audiences to take as much or as little as they need from it. 

The supporting cast around the two stars are pitch perfect. All the supporting Barbies and Kens make the most of their opportunity, chewing on the meaty lines, while Michael Cera’s ‘Allan’ has a great time trying to make you remember his character is there. America Ferrara’s ‘Gloria’, a Mattel employee searching for meaning is arguably the beating heart of the film’s final act, delivering a Gerwig-ian (that’s not catching on) monologue that will resonate, while Robbie herself is fantastic as the film’s ‘core’ Barbie, delivering a passionate and flawless performance of someone on a journey of self-discovery.  

Oh, and then there’s just the small matter of Ryan Gosling’s Ken. 

There will be so much said and written about Gosling here in the weeks to come (drink every time you hear or read ‘scene stealer’) but truly every bit of praise heaped on this comedic tour-de-force of a performance won’t be enough. This is playtime for Gosling, whose gifts for physical comedy are second to none (just ask any fans of criminally underseen The Nice Guys) and whose Ken is the leading authority on ‘Beach’. Turned loose, Gosling is able to generate some of the film’s funniest moments from a mere micro-expression, with his boundless Ken-ergy battling against Barbie’s existential dread for the film’s first half. His delivery of some of the film’s most downright ridiculous (and brilliant) lines could have easily come across as over the top or even too silly in different hands. Gosling is SO good here that it’s likely he’ll find himself trotting (you’ll know it when you see it) to the Oscars next March. 

And while it does feel slightly off (Robbie’s Barbie would say Icky) to be heaping praise on a male performance in a film so deeply rooted in womanhood (somehow it feels like this was Gerwig’s point) and far be it from me to Ken-splain the powerful backbone of this story that is the female journey, there is absolutely a piece of this movie for everyone to take away with them, be it big or small.

This a point no more relevant than during its meta-fest of a conclusion, which sees Gerwig at the peak of her powers, having you laugh out loud before (literally) one minute later sending you into an existential crisis soundtracked by Billie Eilish. This is the patented Greta Gerwig experience, almost like the filmmaker sets out to ensure you’re sat mulling it over for days after. 


This is truly an inspired way to take a gigantic studio film and IP of this magnitude and transform what could have easily been a clunky or mishandled story into an always rewatchable classic, regardless of age or gender. 

So, get on down to Barbieland for the film of the summer and bring your rollerblades!