The past couple of years has seen a shift in the gender gap in films, with women taking centre stage and playing more iconic, heroic and prolific roles. Now more than ever, female characters are taking the lead, leaving their male counterparts to experience being secondary characters and mere love interests.
This was one of the reasons I was so taken in by Ocean’s Eight when I first learnt of the film’s development. Not only was it a sequel to the Ocean’s film franchise, films that I thoroughly enjoyed and featured an all male cast, but it also starred some of the entertainment world’s top leading ladies, including Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson and Anne Hathaway.
The premise of Ocean’s Eight is similar to that of the previous Ocean’s films, only instead of men, we now have women, and instead of casinos, we’re given galas and fashion shows to enjoy. I’m not too sure how I feel about the stereotyping here but I’ll leave that discussion for another day.
The film follows Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), the sister of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean, who rounds up a group of highly skilled women to steal a precious necklace at the Met Gala. In almost the exact same fashion as the previous Ocean’s films, Debbie, with the help of her partner, Lou (Cate Blanchett), who’s meant to be the female equivalent to Brad Pitt’s character, concoct an elaborate plan using each of the other women’s unique skill sets.
The execution of the robbery and twists throughout the film were a delightful treat to witness and brought about a sense of refreshing originality to the film franchise that began to grow tired and predictable. Despite having an idea of what was to happen in the film, I found myself at the edge of my seat, hoping and praying that the women wouldn’t get caught during near misses.
The characters were, by far, the aspect of the film that made it so entertaining for me. With such talented actresses playing such diverse roles, I couldn’t help but be entertained. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the banter between Debbie and Lou, as well as the street swagger and humour of Constance (Awkwafina). As someone who grew up in a similar culture to Amita (Mindy Kaling), I found her motivation to get involved absolutely hilarious. Of course, both Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway proved that they are indeed brilliant actresses with their ability to fool the audiences into believing their characters as being true representations of both women.
The comedy factor was subpar but then again, this film was never meant to me a laugh out loud kind of film. The humour was more in the subtleties and character interactions.
While the narrative was intriguing and enjoyable to me, I’m not so sure that male audiences would be as entertained, particularly due to the more ‘feminine’ aspects of the film. The film appeared to be more of a chick-flick with its focus on pageantry, however, I personally see it as a film that uses this femininity as a tool to showcase equality. Despite being demure and perceivably ‘weaker’, women are just as capable as men, able to commit the same acts, often, in a more creative way.
In many ways, Ocean’s Eight brought back the spark that was slowly fading in the franchise, and made for an entertaining watch. Seeing such a brilliant line-up of women all working together was an absolute delight, and I must admit to enjoying Rihanna’s involvement too. For those who enjoy a slightly comedic ‘whodunnit’ kind of film, especially one which highlights the prowesses of the ‘weaker’ sex, I’d highly recommend giving this film a watch.