Female Glam-Caper Steals the Spotlight
Ocean’s 8, the female answer to the three previous Oceans’ heist movies, (Ocean’s Eleven 2001, Ocean’s Twelve 2004, and Ocean’s Thirteen 2007) is exquisitely cast with (Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway as the leads) and has the perfect heist setting—the lavish Met Gala (New York City’s annual Metropolitan Art Museum’s fundraiser for their Costume Institute). While the film could be seen as mostly aimed toward fashionistas, the setting of the iconic New York art gallery offers visually more than solely fashion—a whole lot more. The detailed planning of the heist is typically the centerpiece of “heists” films—mainly the locale—with all the magnificent art pieces, along with jewels utilizing the Met as the location, is nothing less than brilliant. And yes, The Thomas Crown Affair did cross my mind during the viewing.
Creating a heist film in which jewels, beautiful artwork, or antiquities’ are the target sets a visual symbol exceedingly more interesting than stacks of cash. Not to disappoint, the film takes a surprising twist near the end that garners an ultra sparkly on-screen image—so bright you may need sunglasses. Ocean’s 8 is unapologetically a ‘glam-caper’ at heart, along with enjoyable eye candy for fans of New York City by Danish cinematographer Eigil Bryld—providing a smart, glitzy, comical film to savor and enjoy—the clothes alone are worth the price of admission.
In the director’s chair is Gary Ross of one of my favorite top five films, Pleasantville (1998), he also has screenplay credit along with Olivia Milch, story by Ross, based upon characters created by George Clayton Johnson and Jack Golden Russell. The premise is simple, a team of females, plot to steal a massive diamond necklace (that weighs six pounds) valued at $150 million, to be worn by actress Daphne Kluger, played by Anne Hathaway during the Met Gala then split the take. Speaking of Anne Hathaway, she’s basically playing an actress playing an actress as referenced in Tropic Thunder (2009), Robert Downy Jr.’s, character, “A dude playing a dude disguised as a dude,” she is hysterical in the role of an insecure, narcissistic, clueless, yet gorgeous actress. I loved her performance!
Sandra Bullock takes the lead of the group as Debbie Ocean, the sister of the deceased Danny Ocean (George Clooney) who’s been released from five years of prison time, she’s also the planner of the heist with a hidden agenda—she has a vendetta with former ex-boyfriend Claude Becker, the conniving Richard Armitage; you see, he’s the one who ratted on her, sending her to prison. Cate Blanchett as Lou, her former partner in crime, the rock-and-roll, nightclub owner who’s mode of transportation is a very cool motorcycle, sports confidence along with a chic look, this gal-pal is at times surprisingly the voice of reason. It should be noted that Bullock and Blanchett are wonderful together—so natural as girlfriends—it’s so enjoyable to see these two megastars onscreen together as leads.
However, the script has a bit of a faux pas—due mainly to the underwhelming development of the supporting cast: Mindy Kaling, (A Wrinkle in Time 2018) plays Amita, a jeweler who can replicate diamond pieces with cubic zirconia, Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through the Looking Glass 2016) plays the cash poor, but reputable designer (Rose Weil), Rihanna (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 2017) plays (Nine Ball) the tech-savvy hacker, Sarah Paulson (The Post 2017) plays (Tammy) the fence, and Awkwafina (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising 2016) plays (Constance), the streetwise pickpocket/con artist. A blatantly missed opportunity, we just need more depth with each of these characters along with revved-up pacing at times.
Imagine costume designer Sarah Edwards challenge—re-create the Met Gala, with 300 extras dressed in couture and designer dresses, create wardrobes based on personas for the Ocean’s Eight team, (Bullock’s count is 65 outfit changes, while Blanchett’s are close to 40). How did she pull it off? In several interviews, Edwards stated that Anna Wintour, the editor-and-chief of Vogue magazine was a tremendous help. Edwards’s team on set consisted of 15 styling assistants on average days, and near 50 for the gala shoot. Also noted, the ‘Fashion World’ in general reached out to not only help, but to take part in a film that’s spot-on with their industry. The final result—is breathtaking.
To be sure, the heist itself is dazzling to view especially with all of those drop-dead-gorgeous-gowns at the Met Gala—worn by beautiful people—while the twist and turns of the caper also delight. Check out Bullock’s (Debbie Ocean’s) black Met Gala dress, created by Italian designer Alberta Ferretti with the gold embroidery it’s Ocean’s theme, with marine details, oyster shells, and even starfish. Her crew starting with (Blanchett), wears a Givenchy archived sequined emerald green 70s jumpsuit, followed by Zac Posen (Rihanna), Valentino (Hathaway), Dolce & Gabbana (Bonham Carter), Naeem Khan (Kaling), Prada (Paulson) and Jonathan Simkhai (Awkwafina).
Cue, James Cordon playing John Frazier the insurance fraud investigator and known confidante to the Ocean family. He and Bullock’s scenes are intriguing, as Debbie clearly has revenge on her mind. Cordon cares only about retrieving the necklace and speaking of the necklace, Cartier the French luxury house created the magnificent Jeanne Toussaint necklace the focus of film’s Met Gala heist. The necklace is based on past designs with one, in particular, that was commissioned in 1931 for the Maharaja of Nawanagar (a male) by Jacques Cartier and is described as “the finest cascade of colored diamonds in the world.” Aptly named, the Jeanne Toussaint, it is in tribute to Cartier’s former Creative Director from 1933 to 1970, who was influential in building the brand.
Here’s what I appreciated about the film, first and foremost; viewing the women working together towards a goal, the camaraderie of the female cast, the details of the fashion, the comedic moments and all of the attention to details. I’m looking forward to viewing the film again, as the celebrity cameos are purposely filmed for only an instant, while sipping a glass of wine taking in all the artistic beauty of the New York Met, along with the strong female leading roles, sisterhood and sparkle.
The Bottom line: Ocean’s 8 is unapologetically a ‘glam-caper’ at heart, along with enjoyable eye candy for fans of New York City—providing a smart, glitzy, comical film to savor and enjoy—the clothes alone are worth the price of admission.
Cast: Sandra Bullock (Debbie Ocean), Cate Blanchett (Lou), Anne Hathaway (Daphne Kluger), Mindy Kaling (Amita), Helena Bonham Carter (Rose Weil), Rihanna (Nine Ball), Sarah Paulson (Tammy), Awkwafina (Constance)
Credits: Directed by Gary Ross. Written by Gary Ross and Olivia Milch, story by Gary Ross, based upon characters created by George Clayton Johnson and Jack Golden Russell
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Run Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Sarah Knight Adamson© June 8, 2018