REVIEW: Ocean’s 8 – Feminist Flop or Brazen Brilliance?

Written by Amber Jackson |


**CONTAINS SPOILERS**

 

 

This reboot was just too good. Despite critical debate in the press about the film being a ‘feminist flop’ and how it was lacking in certain cinematic elements, I’m going to have to disagree. And not just because I’m a woman – I genuinely believe I would have enjoyed this film if I was a guy. The film was fun, suspenseful, clever and frankly, badass.

Situated at the centre of the film is Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) – sister of the original franchise’s protagonist Danny Ocean – who is being released from a five-year prison sentence. The film opens with her appearing to want to make amends on her parole, but from the offset, her actions are outspoken, outrageous, and overtly criminal – whilst simultaneously maintaining the subtle and dignified edge that informs her character. You quickly discover that Debbie is looking to stir up some crime.

But this new and ruthless protagonist by no means scrapes the barrel with the company she surrounds herself with. Reuniting with her cool and collected partner Lou (Cate Blanchett), a nightclub owner who looks and sounds like someone you’d want to have on your side. Her loyalty is the crux of their friendship; she ensures that Debbie definitely wants to conduct a heist and, once she’s certain, supports her all the way. Now, that’s a friendship right there.

From here, an insight is given into each of the women that are handpicked by Debbie and Lou to assist with the heist and how their individual qualities are intelligent and necessary to carry off something as huge as robbing the Met Gala. A failing fashion designer who’s too desperate to refuse (Helene Bonham Carter), a mother retired from the criminal world who can’t seem to shake her addiction to illegalities (Sarah Paulson) and a playful hacker who’s hesitant to reveal anything about herself (Rihanna) are mere examples of the women who are enlisted to assist Debbie in her plan to steal the most expensive jewellery in the world.

The costumes were one of my favourite aspects of watching because they were all so individual to each character. To incorporate that level of variety within one film really demonstrates the inclusivity that it being represented here. Each woman had her own unique style that complimented her and her individual identity perfectly. There was surprise, intrigue and genuine gasps (mostly me at Cate Blanchett) when you saw each woman and how she conducted herself throughout the Met Gala scenes.

This ties in well with how the women used their sexuality to a tactical advantage, without oversexualising of exploiting themselves in the process. Ultimately, what made this diverse group of women attractive was their ability to not ‘bear all’ unnecessarily. The salacious scenes that were included were done so because they were integral to the progression of the plot, rather than thrown in to attract a certain audience. The film is self-aware, sexy and surprising and those within it seek to inspire women in a way that holds nothing back.

 

So, what’s to dislike?

 

Despite the film being clever and creative with crime, many felt as though it suffered from an absence of tension. That the suspense was surface-level, which prevented the film from falling under the typical heist umbrella. But is this a bad thing? Me personally, I don’t enjoy endless car chases, gun fights and action sequences that are too long and aggressive. With this film, I could enjoy the crime genre with actions that weren’t glamourized, but still retained a clever and suspenseful edge.

I’ll admit, it’s not perfect by any means. The story does lack depth, but it retains slickness and humour that transcends that. After thinking about it, I enjoyed that you don’t find out a huge amount about each character’s backstory because it leaves more to the minds of the audience – it sets each character up to be intriguing, intimidating and imaginative. Within the current film industry, there appears to be a cry out for perfection and anything that doesn’t cater to that is viewed as bad, or something that will be forgotten about the following year. Ocean’s 8isn’t seamless, nor is it a life-changing film, but it issomething to be enjoyed and to laugh along with, whilst wishing that you could pull something like an all-female heist off.

These characters aren’t just attractive and well-dressed, but they are quick witted, brazen, intelligent, empowered, envisioned and consequently, go after what they want. The one seemingly clueless female character (Anne Hathaway) turns out – spoiler alert – not to be as oblivious as she appears. Ultimately, these A-List actresses are showing something that audiences don’t see enough – a group of women doing whatever the heck they want, without being stopped. There is something for all women to enjoy here – none are defined by patriarchal constraints, creating a celebration of incredible women. The loyalty, sarcasm, dedication and meticulous planning with a huge amount of confidence is awe-inspiring and a really fun cinema experience.

 

Written and Directed by Gary Ross, Ocean’s 8 is currently in UK cinemas.

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