What Was I Made For?
Directed by Greta Gerwig
Barbie and Ken are having the time of their lives in the colourful and seemingly perfect world of Barbie Land. However, when they get a chance to go to the real world, they soon discover the joys and perils of living among humans.
The great Barbenheimer War of 2023 has arrived. The cinemas are flooded with pink. 70mm IMAX film prints are pushing projectionists to their limits. Despite Oppenheimer's atomic power, it was no match for the might of Barbie.
Packed to the brim with vivid colour, transporting audiences to an extravagant world full of Barbies, Kens and pink - There is much more to Barbie than meets the eye. A film that embraces the camp to help audiences let down their guard before revealing its true much more enlightened nature.
What is a consistent high point throughout is the production design. From the opening frame, you can see how meticulous Greta Gerwig and her team were in making sure there was no stone left unturned. The sets, the costumes, and the cinematography all come together to create a visual spectacle that I did not know a major studio would be capable of.
An extensive cast show that there truly is a Barbie and Ken for everyone and every situation with Margot Robbie leading the pack as the stereotypical Barbie that launched the iconic brand. Robbie continues her winning streak taking on a complex character study as she goes through an existential crisis after anxieties from the real world begin to bleed into her seemingly perfect Barbie world. But Ryan Gosling was born to play Ken. A role that juggles just as heavy issues whilst being a caricature with expert comic timing and flexing his triple-threat muscles. He was easily the standout in a film with many welcome surprises.
What I wasn't expecting, was the surprising amount of depth from a film that on the surface celebrates the bright and colourful. With Gerwig behind the camera and co-writing the script with Noah Baumbach, it continues the themes of her previous work of telling rich female stories, though perhaps this time, not as subtly. As the film reveals its true nature, it welcomes some truly beautiful moments of reflection and honesty while never losing the films warming essence. Sharing a message that much of the world needs to hear right now, it battles itself as it begins to balance vastly different tones to make sure that they all land with the necessary impact.
It's been a while since there's been a cultural moment at cinemas like the release of Barbie has created. My local cinema packed all week round, taken over by waves of neon pink. Full cinemas of people embracing the kenergy and coming together to collectively watch a doll experience the pain and beauty of being alive - this is what cinema is about.