But How Gay is ‘Ocean’s 8’?

In “But How Gay Is It?”, we seek to answer the biggest questions you have about a new movie release in theaters now — including, most crucially, the titular question. Does the movie have any queer characters? Are there stories involving same-sex lovers? Which gay icons star in the film? We’re bringing you all that and more.

 

What is Ocean’s 8? If you’ve somehow missed all news about the gender-swapped heist caper starring some of our finest actresses, I bow my head in admiration. You missed out on some great Twitter freakouts, but you also probably avoided, you know, the general hellscape that is life online in 2018.

 

Anyway, Ocean’s 8 is the latest iteration in the Ocean’s remake franchise. Danny Ocean (George Clooney in the previous films) is dead, and his sister Debbie is just now getting out of prison for a crime her former lover framed her for. Partially in his memory, partially because she has no money, and partially because she’s addicted to heisting, she plans a job robbing the Met Gala of one very expensive Cartier necklace off the neck of one very famous actress. The rest of the movie splits cleanly into three acts: planning the heist, executing the heist, and the aftermath.

 

Who’s in it? Sandra Bullock is this film’s titular Ocean, while Cate Blanchett plays her right-hand woman Lou. The rest of the squad is filled out with some of the finest stars of their fields: Mindy Kaling as jewelry maker Amita, Sarah Paulson as fence finder-turned-suburban housewife Tammy, Awkwafina as über-talented pickpocket Constance, Rihanna as quiet-but-deadly hacker Nine-Ball, and Helena Bonham Carter as washed-up fashion designer Rose Weil. The last of the eight is Daphne Kluger herself, played to comic perfection by Anne Hathaway.

Why should I see it? It’s a delight! Look, I’ve mentioned before how I’m not fond of heist as a genre, how it feels so unmoored from any particular tone. That problem is definitely present here — Ocean’s 8 isn’t funny enough to be a comedy, or serious enough to be a drama. But what it absolutely is is fun. The women face almost no real obstacles to pulling off their job, the banter is breezy and light, and you’ll walk out satisfied you saw it. It’s not reinventing the wheel by any measure, and director Gary Ross is no original-trilogy director Steven Soderbergh, but it’s a good time at the cinema.

 

But how gay is it? Outside of the presence of some major gay icons here (including the Carol reunion of Paulson and Blanchett), and the actual casting of a queer woman (Paulson!), the content of the film itself is disappointingly straight. There are definitely some flirty vibes between Debbie and Tammy, and Debbie and Lou talk about their relationship like they’re married (Debbie at one point describes going through a “rough patch” with Lou). But the only explicit relationship we see is between Debbie and art dealer Claude Becker (Richard Armitage).

 

There was a lot of expectation online about the queerness of this film, considering Blanchett’s heralded status among queer women and a scene of flirty banter between her and Debbie that was photographed early on. I’d imagine many will be disappointed that none of the characters are canonically gay. That said, there are definite notes of sexual tension — just enough to keep you on your toes, I’d say.

 

Is Daphne just one of the eight because she’s one of the stars, or is she part of the heist? She’s the target of the heist, and anything more would be a spoiler. Just know that, like Hathaway herself, there is far more than meets the eye to Daphne.

 

Is releasing this film the same weekend as Los Angeles Pride gay rights? You bet it is. If you’re looking for an alternate Pride plan, you can’t go wrong with Ocean’s 8. It may not be explicitly gay, but it’ll certainly make you gay-gasp.

 

Ocean’s 8 is in theaters now.


 

Kevin O'KeeffeKevin O'Keeffe

Kevin O'Keeffe is a writer and 'RuPaul's Drag Race' herstorian. He covers film and TV for INTO, and writes the movie review column "But How Gay Is It?" every Friday.

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