Girl Gang Heisting: Film Commentary on Ocean’s Eight

In the wake of the Women’s March and the #MeToo Movement, the issues of gender equality and women’s representation in the film industry demand redress. Seventeen years after the release of Ocean’s Eleven (Steven Soderbergh, 2001), audiences are finally getting to see a woman-led version of the film: Ocean’s Eight (Gary Ross, 2018). The all female reboot is glitzy, fun, and it’s got a kickass cast of my favorite high power A-list actresses.

 

Photo courtesy of Cinevue

 

Admittedly, I was a bit wary when I read the synopsis that boiled down to a film about women stealing a necklace. I wondered why women couldn’t rob a casino like the men did in the original movie. That said, after watching the film, the women’s target being a very expensive piece of jewelry wasn’t so much of an issue. Having the heist take place at the Met Gala gave the film an overall splashy and modern twist. More importantly, it’s refreshing to see a female leader like Debbie Ocean (played by Sandra Bullock) who doesn’t fall into stereotyped female roles of a virtuous, wronged wife or victimized mother pushed to her breaking point. She assembles a girl gang to heist with her simply because she’s capable of pulling the job off.

 

Photo courtesy of Pop Sugar

The real problem with the film is that Debbie’s story is only being told through rebranding the Ocean’s franchise. With Ocean’s Eight, the women are expected to do everything the men succeeded in doing while also having to clean up traces of subtle sexism in the first film.

This is the issue with the construct of a gender-flip reboot: audiences are reminiscing on stories told by and for men.

Ocean’s Eight is a fun movie but, personally, watching it reiterated the notion that the film industry is a business. I wish we could see an all female heist film that doesn’t need to be branded as part of a franchise to be played in theaters. I’m waiting for the day Hollywood makes another cool girl gang movie that wasn’t re-written for an all-male cast movie.

Maybe I’ll write it myself.

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