A closer look at… Ocean’s 8

The Scoop

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is fresh out of prison, and ready to do what she does best: run a con. What she has in mind is no ordinary crime. She’s been planning it from the inside for the last five years.

The heist involves persuading dim-witted actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) to wear the Toussaint, a $150 million diamond necklace, to the Met Gala, the most glamorous event in the celebrity calendar.  Along with her partner Lou (Cate Blanchett), Debbie sets about assembling a crack team – hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), jeweller Amit (Mindy Kaling), fence Tammy (Sarah Paulson) and pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina).

With the eyes of the world on the Gala, can Debbie’s team get their jewels, and vanish without a trace?

Our Take

Stating an opinion on Oceans 8 feels more like taking an ideological stance than reviewing a film. It’s one of those releases, like The Last Jedi or the Ghostbusters reboot, that’s attracted so much unpleasantness from sexists and/or racists you just want to support it because you applaud what it’s trying to do. As the stars have pointed out, the largely male critical establishment is simply not who the film is for. They’re primed to be dismissive, because they’re not going to feel the giddy delight of finally, finally seeing yourself reflected onscreen.

Does it matter if Ocean’s 8 is any good? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, the film shouldn’t be held to a higher standard than its superficial and disposable male counterparts. It sets out to be slick, shiny fun, and it should be judged on those terms. The cast – especially the iconic Blanchett and an extremely game Anne Hathaway – are clearly having a ball. There’s a massive kick to be had from seeing women have an adventure onscreen where they’re not relegated to being victims, eye candy or anybody’s love interest.

It’s hard not to want more, though. Not to wish the film was deeper, or more meaningful. But that it was better at being slick, shiny fun, with a wittier script and more imaginative direction. For now I’m more than happy to have Ocean’s 8 – I’m just looking forward to what’s next.

Dig Deeper

  • Did you enjoy Ocean’s 8, and why or why not? Have you seen the previous Ocean’s films, and if so, how did this instalment compare?
  • How did you respond to the film’s ensemble cast? Which performance was your favourite? Did anyone surprise you?
  • What did you think of the script? Were you satisfied with the way the heist panned out, and with the twist at the end? Did you find the film funny, or insightful?

  • Did the film’s all-female cast feel significant to you? How – if at all – is Ocean’s 8 a positive step for women? What sort of roles would you like to see more women playing onscreen?
  • Does it matter that Ocean’s 8 was written and directed by a man – and based on a series of films starring men? What difference might it make to have women behind the camera, as well as in front of it?
  • Should a film like Ocean’s 8 be more than ‘fun’, and why or why not? Does a film  need to offer meaningful social commentary in order to be good for women or minorities? Do films have a responsibility to do good in the world at all?

  • Why do we enjoy watching criminals onscreen? How does Ocean’s 8 get us to side with its protagonists, and to justify or overlook their criminality? Is this a problem, and why or why not?
  • What is portrayed as important and worth fighting for in the world of Ocean’s 8? How does each woman use her cut of the money at the end of the film, and what does this tell us about the characters? What might you do with millions of dollars – ill-gotten or otherwise?
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Sophie Lister

Damaris resources bring films to new audiences, start conversations, and enrich lives. Find out more at www.damarismedia.com Here at the Damaris Film Blog, we publish regular discussion guides to help you make the most of the latest cinema releases.