Monday, 16 July 2018

Oceans 8

When Steven Soderbergh made the heist-caper Ocean’s trilogy, they had an A-List starry cast, (George Clooney, Brad Pitt etc), a tongue-in-cheek tone which never took itself too seriously, and a slick cinematographic aesthetic.   Now, there’s an all-female reboot – with inevitable comparisons to these originals, as well as timely sensibilities with the advent of the Me Too/Time’s Up movements. These conversations are hugely important. Occasionally though, the publicity surrounding a film, is so politically charged around this current age of topical controversy, that the issues overshadow the entertainment value and artistry of the film itself. Again, it’s such an impressive ensemble cast in its own right - surely we can move past the fact they’re all women? These changes: gender equality, inclusion, diversity - should’ve always been the case, should happen already, subconsciously – and shouldn’t be such a surprise.  Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, sister of Clooney’s apparently deceased Danny, though the details are unexplained. (There’s a photograph of him, but it would’ve been a clever twist to have him briefly appear).  Recently released from prison, she’s another con-artist who’s soon absconding from perfume counters and luxury suites, to pull-off her greatest trick yet: Manhattan’s annual Met Ball’s multi-million-dollar diamonds…
 The majority of performances are great, particularly Anne Hathaway playing spoilt, mimicking, hysterical materialism to the hilt as Daphne Kluger, a Hollywood star and socialite who’ll be wearing the diamonds in question. Helena Bonham-Carter suits her role as a down-on-her-luck designer – all incredulous eccentricity and elaborate hats. Cate Blanchett’s an absolutely magnetic, utterly unique presence on-screen, but here she’s the wise stoic, not given a lot to do beyond sport a blonde bob and no-nonsense attitude, while Rhianna’s stuck behind a laptop. The fantastic Sarah Paulson’s equally underserved. Bullock chooses an understated delivery: it’s a far subtler performance, compared to her broader roles.   It’s glossy, glamourous fun, but the trailer markets it as far more of a comedy. It could’ve been much funnier – I wish the screenplay shared the same sparkle as the dresses. 
The Met Ball sequence itself – a farcical mixture of split-screens, jazzy Daniel Pemberton score, food poisoning and flurry of celebrity cameos, is the apex of a venture with plenty of style, but lacking laughs, structure and pathos.
Rating: * * * 

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