*warning: spoilers ahead*
If you have been on the internet at any point in the past few months, chances are that you’ve heard about the highly anticipated, Ocean’s 8. Phrases like “girl squad,” “empowering” and “fierce” have been repeated relentlessly. Was the actual movie worth the hype?
The film starts with Sandra Bullock in prison uniform promising to be a model citizen (spoiler alert: she is lying). After she is back to being free and feisty, she meets the second member of the team Cate Blanchett *queer gasp*.
Following the obligatory someone-is-getting-threatened-in-an-art-gallery-scene, they assemble their team to pull off a heist at the Met Gala. The cast is complete with Anne Hathaway playing a narcissistic and uptight celebrity, Helena Bonham Carter a struggling designer, Rihanna a hacker, the jewelry expert is Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina a pickpocket and Sarah Paulson, a housewife who handles stolen goods.
Between the numerous big names thrown at us throughout the movie and Cate Blanchett changing from one pantsuit to the other, I have assembled a list of elements that I want to see more of in future Hollywood productions and things that I would not miss if they were gone.
- More female leads! The lack of leading actresses in Hollywood has been an ongoing issue since the beginning of time. We all have stories to tell. The human experience cannot be summarized in what a mediocre white dude with a backward fitted hat has to say.
- Witty sarcasm and humor. I love it when films like this make fun of themselves in a way. To quote Sandra Bullock, “You are not doing this for me are not doing this for you. Somewhere out there, there’s an 8-year-old girl, lying in bed, dreaming to be a criminal. Let’s do this for her.”
- Cate Blanchett. Just Cate Blanchett. Whether she is in a pantsuit, a vest, a leather jacket or in a sparkly emerald jumpsuit. Driving from minivans to motorcycles into the sunset. We demand more.
- I’m not a huge fan of reboots. Here’s why “female version” of an already successful male-led film rubs me the wrong way. Appreciation of women’s work won’t come only when there are female protagonists. We want female writers, female directors, female creators in general. A chance must be given to women’s original work and leadership, not the “gender-bending” of an existing franchise. Hollywood must learn to support and invest in women’s innovations and ideas not just put a few white, conventionally attractive women on a movie poster and call it a day.
Also, I believe that the fact that is the female version of Ocean’s 11 had some effect on the content of the film. Even the crime is feminized; the goal is to steal a necklace from the glamorous Met Gala *insert montage of the protagonists walking down the stairs at the event in their gowns.*
- Connected to my last point, it seems like we don’t get to see the characters’ personalities in the film or their character development at all. Apart from a couple of exceptions like Awkwafina’s character, the focus is on each person’s part in the job and what their competent of instead of who they are. Vulture’s review of the film also pointed out how Sandra and Cate’s characters were treated as female replicas of Clooney’s Danny and Brad Pitt’s Rusty Ryan in the earlier films instead of the creators reinventing new characters. Not only they lacked backstory and bonding between them, but at some point in the movie, it was also fairly obvious that some of the members weren’t 100% aware of what the plan entailed. The creators seem to have focused on ensuring they had the biggest names to star in the film and then not knowing what to do with them. Instead, they chose to give James Corden’s character all the one-liners and personality that lacked from some of the other female characters’ lines.
- When talking about female leads it doesn’t mean much if it’s according to usual Hollywood fashion: storylines about white, heterosexual cisgender people. This movie is no exception. The star and the majority of the co-stars are all white and until proven otherwise, heterosexual. The few women of color have smaller roles, fewer lines and not much of a backstory. It feels like Hollywood recycles the same romantic plots just with different straight white people. I think it’s finally time for different stories to be told.
Even though it’s certainly not the best, Ocean’s 8 is hopefully the beginning of a new era of female-led films in Hollywood, in which women are no longer background decoration.