Any victory for women in Hollywood is a welcome and rare sign given the abusive patriarchy that is present there (and everywhere). It’s a shame that the opportunities of more diverse roles for women are only in remakes such as the 2016 Ghostbusters or this year’s Ocean’s Eight.
Ocean’s Eight is a spinoff of the Steven Sodebergh heist trilogy starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt. In order to connect this female-led film with the trilogy Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is introduced to us as Danny Ocean’s (George Clooney) sister. Her Brad Pitt counterpart is none other than Cate Blanchett; the rest of the heist crew include: Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham-Carter, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, and Awkwafina. The heist in question involves stealing a diamond necklace from actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) at the Met Gala in New York.
It’s very hard to write a heist film as the audience is expecting wit and a twist at the end; Soderbergh was very apt at producing this formula with his most recent heist flick having been released only last year (Logan Lucky) and delivering on all fronts. Director and writer Gary Ross had a lot to live up to and he manages to produce a by-the-numbers heist flick that does enough to leave the audience satisfied. Ross does suffer from having a bit of a soft hand as a director and this can particularly be seen with some of the weaker performers in the cast including Kaling and Rihanna who seem lost in many scenes regarding the intensity of their acting. However, having the lesser-experienced actresses have less of a role in the film also softens their choppy acting. The lead roles having gone to the likes of Bullock, Blanchett, and Hathaway mean that Ross’ directing mishaps are alleviated; the actresses manage to twist the script into something funnier and wittier than it really is.
It’s incredibly tragic that for a female led film to simply be “ok” these days is a complete triumph. Such is the case with Oceans Eight, the idea of having a female cast by Warner Brothers seems to have been too big a risk to allow for any other creative or filmmaking experiments, the entire film is played safe in those respects. In the end, it’s a good time; don’t come in expecting Soderbergh, but be glad this film exists.