On Thursday night, I sat down for a showing of Ocean’s 8. By then, I had been tweeting about this movie for nearly two years. It had been on my mind for countless hours. By then, I also already knew that there was, tragically, not going to be a lesbian sex scene between Cate Blanchett’s Lou and Sandra Bullock’s Debbie in the movie. Which means I will be taking legal action. Does anyone know any hot lawyers with hair falling in perfect messy waves like Debbie Ocean’s when she’s first released from prison? Lmk.
E. Alex Jung at Vulture already wrote the Ocean’s 8 article I thought I was going to write heading into the movie: a lesbian power ranking of all of the characters and breakdown of why they all are, indeed, lesbians. You should read it! It’s very good and includes scripture like this: “While Ocean’s 8 is technically a heist movie, it is actually a movie about how men are boring and peripheral and women are fun and should have sex with each other.” Hear, hear!
I have now seen Ocean’s 8 twice, and here’s what I saw just beneath the surface both times:
- Lou is a motorcycle-riding, vest-with-no-undershirt-wearing, low ponytailed lesbian, and she and Debbie most definitely used to date and/or fuck. There are several ambiguous lines that hint at such: “Lou and I were going through a rough patch,” Debbie explains when Tammy (Sarah Paulson) asks her how she ended up dating the pukey ex-boyfriend who put her in prison. Maybe she’s talking about their cons? Counterpoint: Maybe not! “This is exactly like last time,” Lou says with all the exasperation of a hurt ex-girlfriend. I mean, when Lou and Debbie are first reunited, Debbie does call her her partner. They also call each other “honey” and “baby” while at a diner just seconds before Debbie feeds Lou a forkful of food!
Lou and Nine Ball (Rihanna) definitely start fucking shortly after meeting. I mean, Lou cooks a meal topped with hot sauce for her mid-heist.
Debbie and Tammy also had a thing in the past. That much is obvious from the look on Tammy’s face when she sees Debbie’s name pop up on her caller ID and when she subsequently shout-whispers “I’m with my family” after answering. Their used-to-bang vibe in the garage is scintillating. Even the way Debbie says “what do you tell your husband” seems pointed.
If you’ve already seen the movie and are now here on Autostraddle dot com, you probably saw all of the above, too. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and are now here on Autostraddle dot com inevitably wondering whomst of the 8 are gay, the answer is… it’s complicated? I can guarantee you will see everything I’ve outlined above, because none of this subtext is particularly hard to extract! Sure, I know that there are probably a good amount of straight people who will walk out of that movie without pausing to consider that Lou and Nine Ball were probably banging mid-heist, but that’s because straight people are not okay and have very limited imaginations.
The subtext is very there — so there that it’s hard to wrap my mind around why they didn’t just simply go there. It would have been so easy! Making it a little more explicitly gay wouldn’t have radically altered the movie at all! It only would have made it even better!
Because Ocean’s 8 is already a very, very good movie. There’s almost no conflict, and that’s refreshing. Why force conflict when you can just show women working together really well and having a lot of fun while doing it? It delivers all the style and thrills of a heist movie but also just feels like a bunch of women hanging out, doing crimes, bonding, and being really good at their jobs. Daphne joins the crew literally because she wants more female friends. (Anne Hathaway, it should be noted, has the standout performance of the movie.)
Ocean’s 8 exudes sex without any actual sex. The fashion and soundtrack are out-of-this-world. A Rihanna dress reveal had the entire theater gasp-screaming both times I saw it. There’s just something instantly seductive about watching Debbie Ocean masterfully commit crimes big and small. And that really is the only point of the movie — that these women are super good at crimes! Iconic!
So yeah, it’s a very good movie! Go see it if you haven’t! But be warned: There are no explicit references to any of the women dating or fucking each other. There’s a lot of eye contact and flirting amongst the 8 but, regrettably, no kissing. And I feel really conflicted by it! The film’s marketing campaign didn’t explicitly queerbait in the way, say, Pitch Perfect 3 did. I just assumed it would be super gay because of, like, the radioactive lesbian energy emanating from Cate Blanchett in all set photos ahead of the release.
The sexual tension between Lou and Debbie — and between Debbie and Tammy in that garage scene — is admittedly intoxicating even if it never becomes something more. And the movie does seem to take place in some sort of lesbian crime utopia where men are mere targets and tools. But in Ocean’s 9, let’s see their gayness shine all over the screen like a six-pound diamond necklace, mkay?