Synopsis: An ex-con recruits a team of women to help her pull off a jewelry heist.
Are you ready for a summertime caper at the movies? A nice break from superheroes, Ocean’s Eight is a way stylish and diverting-enough heist flick. And so refreshing to see a woman-driven vehicle. Plenty of women, at least eight…
Sandra Bullock is Debbie Ocean, sister of master thief Danny Ocean who was played by George Clooney in the Ocean’s movies directed by Steven Soderbergh. George’s partner in crime was Brad Pitt. Sandy B’s right hand woman is Cate Blanchett. First off, Debbie is paroled from prison where she was serving time for art fraud. She quickly resumes scamming to get herself some new couture and a swanky hotel room. Not one to waste time now that she’s on the outside, Deb reunites with a fellow con artist, Lou (Cate Blanchett). Lou, who wears 70’s rock star suits and piles of jewelry, has been making a living selling watered down alcohol.
Sandy B & Cate dive into quippy conversation and make eyes at each other like they want to jump into bed together. Or maybe they are just getting pumped up thinking about all of the couture and makeup they can buy if the heist that Ms. Ocean proposes is
successful. You see, she made good use of her time in prison to plot an elaborate theft at the annual Met Gala. The audience is given a crash course on the Met Gala: it is the primary fundraiser for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Celebs will be everywhere in high fashion and piles of jewels. Debbie is fixated on Cartier’s “Touissant” necklace, chockfull of $150 million worth of diamonds. And her mark is Daphne Kluger, a vacuous and preening actress, played with flair by Anne Hathaway. So much for Hathahaters to get riled up by —As if she has to ACT vain and conceited!
The plan hinges on getting Daphne to wear the coveted necklace to the event, so they have to orchestrate that along with the heist itself which will require a team of specialists. Maybe eight people?
OK! So one doesn’t watch a film in a vacuum — literally or figuratively. Ocean’s Eight arrives in the midst of the #MeToo movement. Many actresses and other women in entertainment have been emboldened to tell their stories of discrimination and abuse from powerful men in the industry. So, yes, it’s great to see a movie starring so many women — and they don’t have to play sex workers! I don’t know that watching the movie is as empowering as, say, lobbying for anti-discrimination legislation, but it’s a nice addition to the landscape.
On a fluffier note, I couldn’t help but think of everything I know about the movie’s stars while watching the movie. Sandy B seems so likable that you can’t help but root for her criminal character who lies, cheats and steals like there’s no tomorrow. Especially when Debbie Ocean bravely holds her head high even though she was duped by her boyfriend Claude (Richard Armitage). They were running a fine art scam and when they got caught he connived a way for her to take the fall. But even though she had to go to prison because of him, was it worse than what Ms. Bullock’s husband did to her? Cheating on her like crazy, mostly at his motorcycle shop, while she labored on set. And to add insult to injury, the news came out on the heels of her Academy Award for The Blindside, cutting short her Oscar afterglow. But, like her Ocean’s Eight woman-wronged, she kept her composure and never asked for sympathy. I wonder if she threatened her ex with a shiv made from a toothbrush like she does in the movie?
I don’t know much about Cate Blanchett except that she is Australian and looks good in pantsuits. And she seems mean. But that impression is probably from the time she refused to answer that guy’s question about how she got the cat in Cinderella to walk on a leash. People need to know, Cate!
The film shows us cute vignettes of the other team members and their recruitment. The wonderfully talented and seemingly mad Helena Bonham-Carter appears as the fashion designer who dresses the actress and convinces her to wear the über high-priced necklace that looks like a bib made of silver dollar-sized diamonds. I love how when Helena is photographed walking around London she’s apt to be wearing wellies with a voluminous flannel gown and hoodie. And her tresses are a great ragged twirl upon her head, adorned with what looks like little kitchen gadgets or a tangle of tulle. That’s what partnering with Tim “Spooky” Burton will do to a woman.
Mindy Kaling is on hand as a jeweler. In one scene, her wheedling mother scolds her for not having a husband. Oh, Mindy, I wish that you could find a good man in real life. But, really, you have everything: a thriving career, a baby and spot on fashion sense. Onto Sarah Paulson (so good in everything!) as the stolen goods fence who can’t resist joining up for an escape of boring suburbia. Sarah’s real life girlfriend is the storied actress Holland Taylor. They look adorable at events together: Sarah all fashion forward with her silver vixen GF. So, who’s this Awkwafina person playing a pickpocket? The internet tells me that her real name is Nora and she is a rapper and “television personality.” Finally, the piece de resistance… Rihanna! Yes, RiRi adorns the screen as a hacker who will need to F up the Met’s security system. She looks just like she does on social media; smoking a blunt and no Drake in sight. Thankfully she doesn’t have to do much acting. I wish the filmmakers had concocted a reason for her to sing. Sandy B gets to show off her flawless German while she’s being distracting at the ball.
Dear Cinephile, you will have to be on your toes when the action moves to the night of the gala heist. So many celeb cameos! And you can bet they are not the Sean Penns of the cineverse. These people are young and know how to have fun. Oh, but Anna Wintour is there. We also see Heidi Klum vamping, Serena Williams looking glam, even a Gigi Hadid sighting. But where is her boo, Zayn? At one Met Gala Zayn accompanied Gigi wearing what looked like chrome robotic arms. He must have had difficulty with the cutlery at dinner. It was trippy when Anne Hathaway pretending to be Daphne is seated at a table with designer Zac Posen and Katie Holmes as themselves. Zac is all smiles but Katie looked like she was trying to be pleasant after spending all afternoon on the phone with her cable company : Why would I, OF All PEOPLE, order Top Gun?!
So! There are a lot of elements that have to be executed just right to deftly liberate the merchandise from the mark and slip out unmolested. If they play their cards right, the audience will be treated to a montage of the team smugly parading away in their evening wear of choice like cat walkers in a high-end criminal fashion show.
It’s not much of a mystery as to whether Ocean’s Eight will get the goods, but here’s a mystery… Where is Danny Ocean/ George Clooney? The movie informs us early on that Danny Ocean has died. Huh? Guess I need to brush up on the Ocean’s oeuvre. And where in the Gala crowd might George be? Or better yet, the brilliant and elegant Amal Clooney? After all, the women take precedence this time.