The Pros of a Con: A Review of ‘Ocean’s 8’

By the Collectress

It feels oddly appropriate that Ocean’s 8 arrives this year, adding a sweet sense of victory to the tides of change that started decades ago, but gained new life over the past two years from cultural landslides like the Women’s March or the #MeToo movement. Things are changing, and yes, it may seem weird that a heist film starring eight badass women is an icon for us to rally to behind, but it is also ironically appropriate. It takes a woman with authority, ability, and ambition to make things happen, or in this case, eight women. 

Ocean’s 8  is the story of Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), Danny Ocean’s sister, who has been incarcerated for the better part of five years. She cons her way out of prison and back in to Lou’s (Cate Blanchett) life. She’s spent her time in prison plotting the heist of a lifetime, and after some (minor) resistance from Lou, they form a super team of badass ladies: diamond specialist Amita (Mindy Kaling), expert fencer Tammy (Sarah Paulson), nifty pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina), hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), and fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter). The job: steal the $150 million diamond necklace from off of Daphne Kluger’s (Anne Hathaway) neck while at the Met Gala.

Although the plot follows the typical cinematic appearance of the heist film subgenre–multiple montages, clever technology, and witty repartee–it differs in one key element: its cast. The female ensemble heist film is very unique (in fact, I can think of only one other film that comes close) and the hefty star power imbued in this film helps set it on its feet, but can it keep it running?

In my opinion, yes it can.

Other reviewers may state that the film plays either too soft or too heavy with the perception of gender, or with the inclusion of a subplot centered on Debbie Ocean’s ex-boyfriend, but truthfully the film explores the plot through the same lens that it has in past episodes of the franchise. Even Ocean’s 11 had Danny pick a casino based on his rivalry for the attentions of Julia Roberts, and I feel that including Debbie Ocean’s ex gives an insight into how prison made her smarter, craftier, and more motivated. None of the other women had relationships of note, although some were acknowledged such as Tammy’s husband, because it wasn’t necessary. These women weren’t defined by who they were with, but rather what talents they could bring to the table.

In addition to star power, this film also brings a heavy dose of fashion to the table. I mean, look at these women.

Look. At. Them.

I could write a sonnet to Cate Blanchett’s pant suits. In fact, her undeniable chic and savvy (and probably queer) aesthetic made me swoon. True story.

No spoilers here, but the clever methods by which these women work together to pull of the heist rivals (or, perhaps, surpasses) the former Ocean’s films. AND, these women do it by working together. No petty rivalry. No competitiveness. Just a bunch of badasses working together and supporting each other to pull off the biggest diamond heist in history.

It may seem like a small step forward for female representation in the entertainment industry, but it’s a significant one, especially if the film does well at the box office. So, have a mojito, gather your friends, and go see the film. You’ll have a good time and you’ll probably fall in love with Cate Blanchett at the same time (or is that  just me?)

Have you seen Ocean’s 8? Let’s talk about Cate Blanchett. Tweet me @dearcollectress