Barbie Film Review: Notes from Barbie on the ageing girlhood and the dread of being.

Sumaiya Chowdhure reviews the biggest movie of 2023: Barbie! Read what the film means to so many girls and women......

With the release of Greta Gerwig’s most anticipated film of 2023, the world dreams sweet in cowboy hats and pink nostalgia as Barbie navigates the haunt of an imperfect girlhood.

A running theme across Greta’s filmography and her own characters in films such as Frances Ha and Mistress America, is their intimate exploration of the female experience that is a whirlwind of lightness and melancholy, and Barbie is no exception to this. Expect to be taken on a pink odyssey of coming into age accompanied by satire, laughs, a few tears, and a new meaning to being Girls.

What makes Greta the comfort filmmaker of our time is her brave storytelling, in that her characters mould the lengths of vulnerability into the female experience that is true and reminiscent of our world.

In Frances Ha, for example, Greta’s character is a 27-year-old dancer, where a girl is expected to be much more established. However, Frances teaches us there’s nothing wrong with simply dancing through the growing pains because opportunities will present themselves. What matters is that we come into age embracing the violets and the blues the way it was intended and not like it is a crime to feel. Like Frances Ha, Barbie presents a careful deconstruction of the ageing girl’s being and her confrontation with the world.

Barbieland is a candy-coated utopia of fairy flossed skies and airtight figures run by feminist porcelain dolls. Crossing the borders of Barbieland, the reality of a mirrored world under the Venice Beach sun comes in the shape of strict patriarchy, ageing faces, catcalling at lunchtime, and Barbie being ruthlessly bullied by a 15-year-old girl.

In the real-world, Barbie experiences emotions unknown to stereotypical Barbies, like humiliation and loss of purpose. Feelings of anxiety and questions of death threaten the consistency of perfection in Barbie, and it presents symptoms of cellulite, flat feet, and unbalanced coordination as she gracefully falls off the roof of her dreamhouse. 

The unpredictable jaggedness is sort of what it feels like to explore womanhood as each age shows face. Coming into age cannot always be so polite. The uncertainty is daunting as it threatens our comfortability, and like Barbie, we try to shield ourselves from the inevitable. After returning to Barbieland from the real world, she says, “I was perfect before, and now I am ugly; I want everything to just go back to the way it was”. Barbie’s reaction to change takes the impression of the wonderfully real and perplexing girlhood.

After a 2-hour viewing session, I am sitting next to my friend at a Starbucks, sipping on pink drinks and we discuss the day the world ran out of pink for Barbie. We speak of disappointments at 24, mothers’ sacrifices, ambition, and admit to secretly hiding tears during Barbie’s ending sequence. I asked her if she heard Ruth say, “We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back to see how far they’ve come”. In the theatres, I was immediately nostalgic of Greta’s previous indie hit film Ladybird and its precious mother-daughter dialogue across the golden sunset of Sacramento.

Gerwig’s Barbie extends on think pieces of mild feminism through body image expectations and a career hierarchy that is somewhat relatable to the modern world experience. However, it is no free-thinking Susan Sontag or Joan Didion. As an adult, I found the feminism aspect to be quite repetitive. However, for many young girls around the world, Barbie may just be the perfect enjoyable introduction to the concept.

Barbie’s more memorable impression on me was the ending dialogue between Barbie and Ruth Marianna Handler, the creator of Barbie in real-life and in the movie. She says, “Humans only have one ending, but ideas live forever”. Ruth then continues to say as Barbie’s maker, she has no control over her life any more than her own daughter, and there is no requirement for permission to live life freely. If there is one thing Greta’s filmmaking suggests, it’s this: Life will forever offer itself to those who wish to accept it, in a way that transcends the fear of death and change to become part of the greater imagination. 

Barbie is a delicate rollercoaster, and through cinema, Greta creates a celluloid string that binds the girlhood experience to something familiar. Perhaps, ‘girlhood’ is just that – a by-product of perfectionism and dread where a girl must leap from one existential tenure to another to seek out the next greater idea.


Smooth tunes from an ex-cult member – Jon Bryant

If you like the sounds of Joji, Jon Bryant is another musician you should lend your ears to....

From ex-cult member to smooth rocker, Jon Bryant communicates and reflects his experiences in his upcoming album Cult Classic, May 17 2019, with his leading, smooth and melodic, Ya Ya Ya Ya.

Jon Bryant Press Photos – Photographed by Carly Dame

Imagine… It’s a lovely, cloudy day in Western Sydney. Rain drops begin to pitter patter on your window sill, as the smell of hot chocolate takes over your room. You turn your spotify (or apple music, up to your preference) on to Jon Bryant’s “Ya Ya Ya Ya.” The song sends you into a deep, surreal, trance as you drift off into the melodic voice and tunes of Mr Bryant’s music.

If you like the sounds of Joji, Jon Bryant is another musician you should lend your ears to. Jon Bryant is an up and coming Canadian Artist in the genre of soft rock. Bryant’s music is inspired by the groovy sounds of Bruce Hornsby, The Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan. But what makes Bryant stand out the most is his mysterious and intriguing past which he reflects upon in his full length album, Cult Classic.  

Before he stepped into studio, Bryant was a member of undisclosed Cult. In that time, Bryant felt that it was hard to leave due to his love to learn and discover the truth. Bryant. In his own words, felt “transformed and enlightened.”

In the early days of writing the music for this album, I saw myself (and the world around me) through the lens of a cult. It was only until I was involved with one, did I actually realise that they’re interwoven through so much of culture. To be in a cult is to be human Jon Bryant stated in a reflection of his time in the cult.

Jon Bryant Press Photos – Photographed by Carly Dame

It was in 2017, Bryant set his goal to produce Cult Classic, after he settled with Afterlife studios (Vancouver). Jon Bryant currently has 15 million combined streams for top 5 tracks on spotify.

Instead of only composing on guitar, Bryant decided to write with piano, becoming a multi-instrumental artist. Bryant’s sound evoked the imagery of sweeping and soaring cinematic scopes, as he reflect his evolvement and his leaving of this cult. You can listen to Ya Ya Ya Ya here.

Bryant’s story is extremely inspiring and a reminder that no matter what your past is, good or bad, that it’s not the end. You can accomplish anything, if your put your faith in it. Stay tuned for more of Jon Bryant’s excellence, as his upcoming album Cult Classic will be released next month. You can also follow Jon Bryant here for updates on his music and performances on his website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram:

Website: JonBryantMusic.com

Facebook: Facebook.com/JonBryantMusic

Twitter: Twitter.com/JonrBryant

Instagram: jonrbryant