In the enchanting realm of Barbie Land, every day is the best day. That is, until midway through a dazzling disco-dance when Barbie (Margot Robbie) asks her fellow Mattel-mates, “Do you guys ever think about dying?” What follows is a philosophical voyage that leaves behind a pink-hued Oz as Barbie and her not-boyfriend Ken (Ryan Gosling) embark on a real-world adventure in an attempt to reconcile her identity. It’s a fitting twist for a doll that has spent over six decades inspiring young girls (and boys) to look inward and explore their identity, now having to confront her own existential crisis. Yes, Barbie may be a plastic toy, but she also symbolizes the unrealistic standard of feminine beauty and embodies the prescribed roles in a patriarchal society. As Barbie struggles with the problems that women in the real world have to handle daily, director Greta Gerwig uses the opportunity to delve into some weighty themes uncommon in typical summer blockbusters – most notably the lack of autonomy experienced by women in a male-dominated world. The message of womanhood is not discrete nor does it need to be. There’s no peeling back the pink-hues to get to the subtext. Gerwig effortlessly unveils the profound truth of patriarchy's harmful impact on both women and men, as if unboxing a cherished Barbie doll. (2023) — Ryan Brothers
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