My girlfriend and I were grinning from ear to ear as we left our screening of Ocean’s 8. We hadn’t devised some feminist conspiracy to love the film (even if it sucked). We just had a rollicking good time.
Where were other films like this over the last decade? Where were other films with more than three (let alone eight) prominent female characters, binding together on a shared effort, with almost no key male characters, no male love interests, and not even a male antagonist to hate? We scanned the cast list for comparisons.
Sandra Bullock’s Miss Congeniality was a contender, if full of men. Anne Hathaway’s Princess Diaries too. Cate Blanchett headlined several of our favourite flicks, but rarely alongside more than one other woman, and Helena Bonham Carter has unfortunately shared most of her last decade’s screen time with the deplorable Johnny Depp.
As we tried to ascertain how Ocean’s 8 had left us so satisfied - even with a thin plot and predictable twist - we realised, we’d never quite seen this.
Ocean’s 8, on the back of a relatively thin plot and predictable twist, has received a few subpar reviews, and sits currently at 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. I don’t begrudge that. But I do think people who have long had some pretty low-brow quick-fix popcorn films available to them (see: The Fast & The Furious, Transformers, the previous three Ocean’s films) may not be able to fathom the joy of seeing women share real screen time, show real skills, and give almost no lip-service to the (lack of) men in their lives. It’s almost unheard of.
The film shows its hand early on. “A ‘Him’ gets noticed,” says Bullock, as she puts together her all-female team. “A ‘Her’ gets ignored. And for once we want to be ignored.” It’s especially poignant when Rihanna, Awkwafina, and Mindy Kaling go unnoticed as a cleaner, waitress, and cook respectively. (Side note - Rihanna going unnoticed at the Met Gala?! Hilarious).
Of course, there will be those who dig deep into the problems of the film - the plot twist you see coming a mile off, the con jobs that seem just a smidgen too simple - but don’t forget, men have been getting away with this crap for decades. Tom Cruise regularly helms critically-panned box office bombs, only to return six months later for the next one. (Sometimes he lands himself on a beaut like 2017’s American Made. But anyone would with that many chances).
For women, those chances are fewer and further between. When an opportunity like this knocks, there’s a lot of pressure to get it right. So, did Ocean’s 8 knock it out of the park?
Yes and no.
Ocean’s 8 is a fun, popcorn film. A slightly plot-thin, predictable film.
But a quietly revolutionary film. And I bloody loved it.Support Villainesse