A cast of A-listers elevate a messy female-centric summer heist film
In a time where it seems women are (still) given the short end of the stick, is there room for an all female remake of an all male trilogy? If we’ve learned anything from Ghostbusters (and recently, Star Wars), it is that sexism is still alive and well. So, what better than to give a big middle finger and create a pseudo-sequel of the Ocean trilogy with a cast of A-list female talent at the helm. Ocean’s Eight is a fast-paced heist extravaganza walking a fine line between stylized realism and fantasy escapism.
For anyone ready to give Ocean’s Eight a try, they have to be on board with the film’s talented female cast and who wouldn’t be. Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock plays a strong-headed Debbie Ocean (brother of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean). She’s recently got out of jail and has had time to think of her next big heist. She enlist the help of Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett’s Lou to help steal the world famous Toussant necklace who will grace the neck of Anne Hathaway’s incredibly over the top and egotistical Daphne Klueger at the Met Gala.
To help craft the plan, Debbie assembles a team of five other women. There is Helena Bonham Carter who plays the fashion designer, Rose Weil, who is task to dress Daphne for the Met Gala. Sarah Paulson plays Tammy, the stay-at-home mom with a knack for stealing. Mindy Kaling plays Amita, a professional jeweler. Rhianna plays an unexpected junkie-hacker who takes care of the team’s technological needs. And last but certainly not least is the surprisingly funny Awkwafina who plays a slick street con-artist. If there is a disappointment with Ocean’s Eight cast it is that many of its cast members are underutilized, even if their performances demand more attention.
The rest of the film isn’t as intriguing or impressive but that’s not to say that it is plain out terrible. Ocean’s Eight takes great pleasure in the in-your-face approach and while that works well for the cast’s glamorous costumes, it doesn’t so much lends itself to the many celebrity cameos at the Met Gala. It’s fun to spot your favorite celebrity but it also creates a disconnect between our characters’ acting and other celebrities being themselves. Probably the most out of place is Anne Hathaway’s full blown meta performance as Daphne. Seeing this over the top character among real world celebrities really exposes the film’s jarring reality-fantasy divide.
Director Gary Ross, on the other hand, seems to indulge in this unsubtle and jarring approach. His loud melodic score is wild and fun but it only truly works during the actual heist. Ocean’ Eight works best when it embraces escapist fantasy and only then do Ross’ vision and the film’s events start to mesh together smoothly. For the times that it doesn’t quite work, it’s the cast that carries the film forward. Bullock’s explanation that ”a him gets noticed and a her gets ignored” may be the most timely line of this all-female film but in Ocean’s Eight‘s idealistic world, it’s the total opposite and it’s greater for it.
Ocean’s Eight is in theaters now.