Ocean’s 8 movie cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina
Ocean’s 8 movie director: Gary Ross
Ocean’s 8 movie rating: 3 stars
That Anne Hathaway meets the real Anna Wintour on screen 12 years after The Devil Wears Prada, and that the Vogue editor-in-chief’s showpiece Met Gala moment gets upstaged, is the best inside joke of Ocean’s Eight. The rest is played too straight and too simple, hitting those sexy notes that so define the Ocean’s franchise since Steven Soderbergh touched it — making it the touchstone for a frothy caper of this kind — very, very rarely.
Plus, Hathaway plays Daphne Kluger, one of those pretty faces of indeterminable fame in the showbiz industry, with a rich devilishness bearing the touches of that 2006 film. She is both the victim and exploiter of all that rides on her — in this case, a $150 million necklace — and Hathaway brings an acute awareness of that to her role, while enjoying being the prettiest girl in the room, in a pink train trailing metres and stilettos rising inches.
Scene-stealers in their own right, neither Bullock nor Blanchett manage to infuse their roles with that star gloss. Bullock reprises the role of George Clooney from the Ocean’s series as Danny Ocean’s sister Debra, who has just got out of prison and is planning a heist involving that $150 million diamond necklace, which has not been brought out in public in 50 years. Blanchett fills in for Brad Pitt, as Debra’s closest buddy Lou, who may be more than a partner in crime. Bullock is an immensely likeable actor who can be as effortlessly glamorous in a trench coat and tousled hair as play the girl next door in a rumpled track suit. Blanchett has played women of class often in a long career. When the two come together here, they are almost two different people with no shared chemistry of any kind.
When they go about assembling the crew they need to steal the necklace on the Met Gala night from around Kluger’s neck, the others, such as the talented Paulson, the funny Kaling, the charismatic Rihanna, the caustic Carter or Awkwafina, get barely any time to register. And while this is at least hinted as being an all-woman affair, there is a man angle to the story, and nothing as exciting as the frisson between Clooney and Julia Roberts. Another male character, from Ocean’s, also shows up for reasons entirely unnecessary at another point.
The heist night itself is a smoother affair, with all the delight and wonder of an exquisitely staged crime. Before the film lets it go limp again, for a while there, we have a glimpse of what pure fun looks like. And it doesn’t have to involve diamonds.