“Ocean’s 8” Review: Women Doing Crimes And (Probably) Each Other

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?

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is a Brooklyn-based writer, television critic, and comedian who spends most of her time over-analyzing queer subtext on television, singing "Take Me Or Leave Me" in public places, and assembling cheese platters. She has a cat named after Piper Halliwell from Charmed, and her go-to karaoke song is "Everywhere" by Michelle Branch. Her writing can also be found at The A.V. Club and The Hollywood Reporter, and she wrote the webseries Sidetrack. You can catch her screaming in all-caps about Kalinda Sharma, Jennifer Lopez, and oysters on Twitter and Instagram.

Kayla has written 136 articles for us.

53 Comments

  1. my moviegoing compatriots can vouch for the soft gay noises i could not suppress throughout this film, mostly any time anyone was on screen, or wearing something, or making eye contact with anyone else.

    here’s the thing, though… yes i came home and immediately started looking for fanfic, but, like… there’s not much yet i guess? are we working to remedy this problem? anybody already writing/have any recs?

  2. My girlfriend pointed it out to me during the movie, there’s a rainbow sticker, laying on the desk between them at one point in the movie

    A fucking rainbow sticker, they knew exactly what they were doing,

  3. Saw this yesterday and thought it was really fun and enjoyable! But, one question… why does Sarah Paulson’s character open a warehouse in the end? That’s her dream? What? I know she had a bunch of stolen stuff hidden (warehouse-like) in her garage, but I thought that was more a byproduct of her compulsion to steal, not because she had some kind of storage fetish.

  4. Lou is gay. Like, it’s pretty clear. Good.
    That being said, I liked the movie but I didn’t love it and I wanted to love it.
    I think theywere just too good, everything was so easy for them. Even when difficulties arose they solved it quick and easy without breaking a sweat, like in the case of the magnet and also the scanning of the necklace. I wish they had to work a little harder. Maybe if there was a villain, there wasn’t an antagonist, really. That ex boyfriend doesn’t really qualify…
    But I liked that it was all about the ladies and no one was fighting over a man or anything.
    Also I didn’t know Sandra Bullock is half German and speaks it fluently.

    • I’ve heard a few people say that it was too easy, but honestly, in today’s reality of one horrible news story after another, it was such a relief to watch a steady stream of win. It was a relief to not have any infighting or back-stabbing amongst the eight. Even the surprise extra loot gets shared with the whole group, even though only some of them knew about it. That’s women working together and supporting each other to kick ass. Yes, please.

    • Yeah, I said the same thing after I saw it today. Andy Garcia in Ocean’s Eleven is a great villain because you get to know him just as well as the protagonists and based on what we learn about him, we really want him to lose. Richard Armitage is just some crappy guy who barely registers as a character in this movie so it’s harder to root for the women in this movie than it was to root for the men in Ocean’s 11. Which just doesn’t even compute in my head that I had a harder time rooting for women than men.

      The cast was great, but I just don’t think the screenplay was as tight as the original (er, second original?) and Gary Ross just isn’t as stylish a director as Steven Soderbergh. But I still enjoyed it. I just hope if they make a sequel, the stakes feel a little higher and the characters have more interesting interactions.

  5. 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.

    – Jane Ramos from Jane the Virgin
    – Nelle Porter from Ally McBeal
    – Miranda from Sex and the City (not so wavy but occasionaly messy hair)
    – Alexandra Chabot from SVU
    – Kate Reed from Fairly Legal
    (these are just the gay/played gay/could be gay ones I could think of, there must be so many more. Sorry I don’t know any real lawyers)

  6. I just feel like…I’m not sure who the writer at Vulture is, but Autostraddle would have done that article better :/ I want MORE description! Can we talk about Helena Bonham Carter’s amazing #frumpyfemme aesthetic? Awkwafina’s long-haired butch vibes? Rihanna deserved so much more. Ugh the subtext in this movie was everything!

  7. To those of you who didn’t like Carol and are sick of hearing about Carol and are rolling your eyes at the thought of reading one more word about Carol… sorry, not sorry… I’m making this about Carol!

    It would be interesting to know some of what went on during development of this film. I have a suspicion that the worldwide outpouring of lesbian love Cate Blanchett received following Carol’s release may have impacted Lou’s character development. Perhaps it was already there when she was handed the script; on the other hand…

    According to imdb, Ocean’s 8 filming took place Oct. 2016 – March 2017 while the Carol aftershocks were still rocking our world. Cate Blanchett has gone on record saying she has been approached “in the grocery store” by more fans about Carol than any other film she’s made.

    Maybe C8 realized a sure-fire way to parlay at the box office would be to give the gays more of what they want — hence the legs-open-sittin’, motorcycle-ridin’, skinny-necktie-and-bomber-jacket-wearin’ Lou Miller was born. Just a hump, er hunch.

    It certainly worked on me. I went twice this weekend, both for the Carol-Abby reunion and the Sandy Lou Who possibilities.

    For my fellow Carolheads…

      • Yup. Flung out of space… and upon landing (on her booted feet), she strutted over in her shiny leather pants and lifted one long leg and then sat astride my lap just like she mounted that big, ol’ Triumph, and stuck her less-than-Anne-Hathaway-but-more-than-enough boobs in my face — smacking her gum and wearing a shit-eating grin the whole time. Yes, Priscila T, this was a calculated and deliberate attack perpetrated by Cate Blanchett to devastating effect.

        Me: waving a white flag in one hand and a rainbow flag in the other while rushing off to see if I can make it to tonight’s 7:30 showing of Ocean’s 8

    • If it was any other (less famous) actor/actress I may agree with you here. And although Cate Blanchett might be aware of the effect she can have on a certain demographic (looking at everyone in the room), I don’t think she needs to “over-gay” her characters to sell them to us.
      But, even if she does, can you really blame her for GIVING US WHAT WE WANT.

  8. This movie was soooooo gay haha!
    I was kind of hoping on that last scene,Tess Ocean would appear and answer Debbie with “Yes, he would’ve love it” …. Just throwing it out there.

  9. Sandra Bullock’s back while she walks away during the gala rivals Cate Blanchett’s during the Carol sex scene, which we all know was the best part of that movie.

    Like, the rest of the movie was great, but when I see a Blanchett movie, I want to see the goods (i.e, her back). It remained unfortunately clothed throughout. But Sandy B’s! Wow!

  10. So many laugh out loud moments in this article! Unfortunately Ocean’s 8 isn’t out here in the UK until next week and I can’t wait to see it. I’m a little annoyed they didn’t make anything explicitly gay but also I kind of expected as much? Let’s hope if they get a sequel they’ll do it then

    • This is one of my favorite tropes in a movie/TV show! When they put emphasis on being believable for the completely mundane stuff. It’s not always food, but often.

      This happened in Ghostbusters (2017) too. “It’s lunchtime, we shall now eat lunch, possibly in the presence of Kate McKinnon playing with a soldering gun…blessed be we.” Which really helps pull you in. Never once have the women I know in real life had a rom-com discussion/Bechdel test fail about what kind of salad they’re eating!

      I think it’s a side effect of a critical mass of female talent in front of and behind the camera. I also recall seeing scenes with normal food in them for various female-first, female-produced shows on SyFy (Lost Girl, Wynonna Earp).

  11. I said, out loud, en route to the theater, “if none of these women are lesbians I will riot.” The only thing that saves me is Lou is most assuredly a lesbian.

    Side note, Cate Blanchette is the sexiest most incredible creature and it brings me actual pain to behold her. She pokes my heart, is what I’m saying.

  12. I didn’t really think that they would’ve made anyone gay in this movie cause it’s only existence is like a victory in itself, to put a gay character would be taking a much higher risk than the one they were already taking while making this film.
    I didn’t watch it yet but I think that Cate’s choice to play Lou this gay was on purpose… maybe to hinch us something? Or to prepare us for some revelation on the next movie (yes, I’m an optimistic!)? I don’t know… she seems pretty open to take this road if they give her green light to do it.

  13. I have never seen any of the Ocean’s *insert numerical digit here* movies, and I legitimately thought they took place on a cruise liner until my girlfriend explained that the title was not literal.

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