I’m a big fan of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, and Anne Hathaway, and the cast list of Ocean’s 8 also includes Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Awkwafina, and Mindy Kaling, thank you very much. Gary Ross, who made his directorial debut with another favorite film of mine, Pleasantville, directed and co-wrote this escapade into the world of the big con combined with high fashion and fabulous jewels.
I watched at least six previews before the main attraction and—with one exception—they were all extremely violent, including the comedy that blended in with all the other action-adventure-the-darkness-is-upon-us and there’s no way out except to fight, fight, fight to the bitter end. What a relief to spend two hours with smart, sexy women pulling off a great big diamond heist. No guns, no cars crashing, no buildings exploding—just a diamond necklace worth $150,000,000, locked up in a vault five stories underground, and one woman determined to steal it.
That one woman is Sandra Bullock, who portrays Debbie Ocean, the sister of Danny Ocean (AKA George Clooney). She was double-crossed by her con-man lover and ended up spending five years, eight months and twelve days in prison, time she dedicated to planning the Big Steal. Once out and about in New York City, she shows off her con skills by scoring some luxury items from Bergdorf Goodman. She then finagles a hotel suite where she can wash away the prison blues.
Relaxed and refreshed, she begins contacting the women who will comprise her high-theft team, beginning with her long-time friend and partner, Cate Blanchett. There’s a lot of wry humor in their scenes together, with Bullock locked on to her diamond necklace dream and Blanchett bringing her back to earth with reminders of all the obstacles and reasons why this could all go horribly wrong. As they locate the women with the know-how to steal a million-dollar-plus necklace in full view of all the rich and beautifully dressed people at the Met Gala, we see each woman’s quirks and particular skills, every one absolutely essential to making this heist work.
One reviewer who was not overly impressed with this movie said these talented women deserved a script with more complex characters. While it’s true these women are capable of playing complex characters, the script that reviewer wants would be another movie entirely, and I’m sure it would have sunk like a stone. Ocean’s 8 has a deft touch. It sets exactly the right tone. It gives us just enough and no more—because anything more would have muddied the whole picture. To quote Christy Lemire, it is “flat-out fun” and, for my money, more entertainment than all the super-hero movies currently to be found at your local cineplex.
This movie is a real time-out from the awful realities we are living with day-to-day, and I was grateful for it. I enjoyed the sheer impossibility of the plan, marveled at the ingenuity of these women as they dealt with unexpected complications, and loved the surprise at the end—a bravura turn that was icing on top of an already-gorgeous cake. If you want more details before purchasing your ticket, I highly recommend Christy Lemire’s review at Roger Ebert’s site . Lemire went with this movie in the same way I did, and she writes really well. Other than that, all I can say is get your popcorn and settle in for a sweet, rockin’ ride with Debbie Ocean and Company.