Film Review | Ocean’s 8 is an Easy to Enjoy, Empty Spectacle

I’m an Ocean’s virgin. That’s probably one of the stranger sentences I’ve written but what I mean is that I’ve never seen any of the original Ocean’s trilogy. I’m not a fan of heist movies because it’s rare that they allow for good characters and a decent story. The heist itself is always fun to watch but if that’s the only thing you’re paying for then you need to re-evaluate how you watch movies. Ocean’s 8 never really gives us the characters or the story but the spectacle is enough.

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is just out of prison and planning to rob the most expensive necklace in the world. She’s going to do it with her best gal pal Blue (Cate Blanchett) and a diverse crew of female criminals. All under the nose of the person wearing the necklace, actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway). So far, so Ocean’s.

Despite the diverse array of talent from The US Office alumnus Mindy Kaling to pop superstar Rihanna to goth legend Helena Bonham Carter; Ocean’s 8 pigeonholes it’s characters. All of them fit into the roles they’re given and rarely does any real personality shine through. There’s the leader, the hacker, the fence, the pickpocket, the con-woman and so on and so forth. The only real performance is by Anne Hathaway.

Hathaway is a revelation in Ocean’s 8. Every line of dialogue is either a breathy moan or simpering sigh. It’s as if her character spends every waking moment in a kind of post-orgasmic bliss only coming out of it to snap at assistants or the thieves in disguise. It’s a performance that’d inspire a drag queen character. I don’t know what the crossover between the Ocean’s films and drag is but it needs to be bigger. Her character is also the only one with convincing layers which is again a virtue of her performance not the script.

The cast of Ocean's 8 -

Writer/director Gary Ross has an eye for the gaudy. The scenes at the Met Gala are ostentatious enough to make a Communist vomit. Celebrity cameos from Heidi Klum to Anna Wintour to Common add a layer of authenticity to proceedings. Slow motion shots of the Kardashian sisters soak in every contour line, every diamond studded seam and every constant pout. It’s a film about admiring and craving the exclusive lifestyles on display and then stealing them. Speaking of lavish lifestyles, Cate Blanchett looks like she’s already living one thanks to Sarah Edwards stunning costume design.

It’s a film that’s as much about the fashion as it is its female stars. This is a film about women and for women but men can easily enjoy it too. Anyone can, even if the characters do feel like they could’ve fit into any other heist movie. It might just be the first film of the post-Weinstein era; a safer era that is just as entertaining and enthralling as it was before.

Ocean’s 8 is out now in Irish cinemas

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