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Gary Ross’ Ocean’s 8 Premieres in NYC

Gary Ross’ Ocean’s 8 Premieres in NYC

/ Refinery 29

 

In the early planning stages of Ocean’s 8’s epic Met Gala heist, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) explains her reasoning for an all-woman crew: “A him gets noticed. A her gets ignored. And for once, we’d like to be ignored.”

The line, from Gary Ross’ and Olivia Milch’s script, is a simple plot exposition device, but one that’s heavy in meaning. I don’t remember Danny Ocean (George Clooney) ever pulling Rusty (Brad Pitt) aside to justify his decision to gather a group of male friends to rob three casinos. Why would he? What was the height of normalcy for one becomes a central plot point for the other. And yet, the beauty of Ocean’s 8 is how it manages to transcend its status as “the female Ocean’s 11,” delivering a bold, funny and joyous crime caper that gives its predecessor a run for its money.

Female-led blockbusters are still rare enough as to be held to a higher standard than their male counterparts. There’s a much bigger pressure to get it right, and maybe for that reason, there’s still a sense of immense relief when a movie like Ocean’s 8 is good. It’s one more notch to add to a growing number of examples that prove that stories about women aren’t just worthy, they’re profitable. That’s a feeling that we perhaps need to get away from in order to move the conversation about women in film forward, but in this case, I think there’s something else to consider: There’s also a feeling of catharsis that comes from the sheer exhilaration of seeing eight women working together, honing their craft at the highest level, and doing it with style.

It’s a testament to director Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games) that Ocean’s 8 doesn’t just slide by on its A-list casting, which initially felt more like a badass concept than a real movie. Sandra Bullock does the impossible in making us believe that George Clooney really does have a sibling, and she’s just as famous and charming as he is. Cate Blanchett is just the definition of cool, always and forever. But the major standouts are Rihanna, Awkwafina and Anne Hathaway, who all deliver memorable performances in roles that could have been one-dimensional for expediency’s sake.

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