Spend approximately 0.5 seconds on the internet and you’ll be sure to find an all-too-frequent sound: whole slews of film ‘fans’ whining about an ‘epidemic of PC remakes’. These centre on what are, in their minds, untouchable, gospel-worthy films. Y’know, like that one where Dan Aykroyd gets a blowjob from a ghost. The feminists sure ruined that one when they gave a black woman and a lesbian in-depth and interesting characterisation. But enough of the many, many chips on my shoulder regarding the most recent Ghostbusters film (it’s funny, you guys are just mean); this review concerns a far more recent, and to my knowledge, only other example, of a female led take on a piece of cult filmmaking.
Ocean’s 8 isn’t an artistic masterpiece. The many mediocre critical reviews make that clear, and my viewing proved no different. There was certainly some attempt at stylised editing that mirrored the jaunty, roguish tone stretching throughout the movie, but it was only an attempt- leaning into those stylistic choices would only emphasise the chaotic caper that is the plot.
these characters have proven themselves to be capable enough for us to just accept pretty much whatever they do as possible
Now that the artistic portion is out the way, let’s talk about the narrative. Ocean’s 8 is so, so, so much fun; whilst desperately scribbling notes in the semi-darkness, I jotted down ‘I think I love heist films’. The heightened tension – contrasting with the off-the-wall ridiculousness of the tasks – and cheeky banter between characters are the building blocks of the genre, and the cast carries this off effortlessly. There’s just something irrefutably hilarious about Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett standing outside a window, in suits and dark sunglasses, holding a bubble machine. Whilst the women do their best to provide the audience with an expositional rundown of the Job itself, there are so many minute details that are left unanswered (How did you hide the important piece of equipment in that vital location? How did you know where that specific person was at that specific time?). But none of that matters- these characters have proven themselves to be capable enough for us to just accept pretty much whatever they do as possible.
As well as the essential undertone of humour throughout, it would be amiss for me not to mention how much this ties to the female experience. Bullock’s character notes at one point that they are only including women in their team as they “want to remain unnoticed”, weaponizing the assumptions of others to her own advantage. There are multiple depictions of women eating (rewatch a couple movies, and unless it’s a skinny love interest chowing down on a burger to prove she’s ‘not like other girls’, you’ll realise the rarity), and, most importantly, women of colour. As a white woman, I’m fully aware my response to their presence is secondary to those who Rhianna, Awkwafina, and Mindy Kaling represent, and I’m also aware that 3 non-white women vs. 5 white women isn’t a great ratio, but it is a positive step.
To put it plainly, I adore this film. Mostly because watching it, I can get caught up in the escapism of the heist, rather than having to identify myself with the impossibly-thin love interest who dies for male character development. I can get lost in the convoluted plans and the humour and implausible yet somehow feasible accomplishments of our antiheros. I’m almost certain the cast and crew of Ocean’s 8 understood the importance of their project, and what it would mean to people- more than anything because of Bullock’s speech to her team, right before the heist begins.
She ends it with:
“Somewhere out there, there’s an 8 year old girl, lying in her bed, dreaming of being a criminal. Let’s do this for her.”