Film Review: “Ocean's 8”
Ocean’s 8 is a spinoff to the robbery franchise which features Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett at the head of the team of women planning to lift diamonds worth 150 million dollars from the Met Gala. Why is this film likely to go down with viewers? The answer is obvious: a powerful cast of female stars, the plot dwelling upon empowerment of women, and dazzling glamor. Add to this the pleasure of seeing quick-witted and intelligent women wearing incredibly beautiful outfits and stealing bling worth millions.
It is certainly wrong to underestimate the novelty value the film has as it stars absolutely stunning actresses who play tough swindlers robbing the Met Gala, the most exceptional feast of fashion and glamor, of more rocks than anyone could ever dare dream of. The film has also scored more than a point by having Rihanna play an outstanding hacker able to steal the show. Not only this but $ 70 million budget, highly intelligent women, who are able to think and act, and the push for the storytelling which is more female-forward should grant Warner Brothers studio box-office receipts. However, the choice of Gary Ross as a director seems to be doubtfully right. He and Olivia Milch, his co-writer, strictly follow the template of Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven, the best reinvention of Rat Pack of 1960.
In case of Ocean’s 8, it is Danny Ocean’s (George Clooney) sister Debbie, who is the masterminds of the whole affair. Upon being released from jail, she finds her former co-perpetrator Lou, starred by Cate Blanchett, and hires six women with various skills and talents. It is only later that her genuine motive is uncovered – to take revenge upon Claude Becker, an art-dealer and her ex-lover, because of whom she was sentenced to five years of imprisonment.
Instead of creating new characters, the director treats both Debbi and Lou as female equivalents of Danny played by Clooney and Rusty Ryan played by Pitt. However, making Bullock and Blanchett’s characters completely different would mean making the whole story women-centered. Even with haute couture dresses and high-heeled shoes that replaced tuxedos, the film lacks fresh dynamics.
As for the acting, two protagonists seem rather reserved and impassive which makes the whole thing seem tiring and lacking confidence. Although the character of Bullock is confident since she is in charge of the whole affair, the actresses’ performance is quite stiff. Blanchett, on the contrary, is more relaxed and seems to be having a good time.
Fortunately, the supporting actresses add more spice to the film. A brilliant performance is given by Awkwafina who plays Constance, an outstanding pickpocket and hustler of Queens Street. Rihanna has also added to the film becoming more appealing as her skills of the side-eye double take are impeccable. Anne Hathaway plays a film star and the chairperson of Met Gala. Her Daphne Kluger is a subtle parody of the vanity an actress might possess ending up with uncovering her wild self-hidden inside. One of the most hilarious moments is Daphne’s demonstration of real pleasure as soon as the vintage Cartier necklace touches her skin.
Two other supporting actresses, Mindy Kaling and Sarah Paulson, seem to have been given less chance to demonstrate their skills and talent the former playing a jewelry expert and the latter combining the roles of a decent mother of the family and a black-market vendor dealing with stolen goods. The performance which is dramatically different from all others is that of Helena Bonham Carter who plays Rose Weil, a fashion designer who is almost bankrupt. The reason she becomes a member of the crew is the promise of being exempted from debts. In this role Bonham Carter reminds Vivienne Westwood; however, she does not look persuasive with her crazy manners and Irish accent which lacks consistency.
The settings of the film are incredibly credible since they are real locations. The Cartier main store, the offices of the Vogue, the Metropolitan Museum are among those which the film production was granted access to. Fashion lovers are sure to find the film a real treat as the costumes created by Sarah Edward are absolutely stunning. Add to this some famous designers’ work that drew their inspiration from the exhibits of the Met Costume Institute dedicated to royalty, and you will be delighted as much as you were with the film Sex and the City plus robbery minus sex.
Those, who have always been eager to have a peep at what is going on behind the scenes at the Met Gala, will be at last satisfied. The impression is intensified by the appearance of the whole bunch of celebrities including models, designers, and movie stars.
In the atmosphere where sophistication and pomp reign, it is delightful to witness a crew of bold women plunges into the world of the élite with such an ease as they have always belonged there. However, at times the movie resembles a mechanical change of scene when a missed opportunity seems to be the best word to describe it.
One can spot the veterans of New York stage among the cast appearing as the actresses of local theaters employed by Debbie to carry stolen jewelry. This creative move seems to be quite a successful attempt of the production team to portray an amazing diversity of women engaged.
Serving as a producer, Soderbergh brings lively energy and lightness to the movie. The eclectic music mix supplements the score composed by Daniel Pemberton.
But still, it is a punch that the movie lacks in spite of the impressive gadgetry, sound plotting, and stunning imagery. Watching it for a while, you feel that what you need is not a threadbare formula in a new repackaging but an action with suspense, a plot with a conflict, and the whole thing with a little heart.