‘Ocean’s 8’ is Extremely Gay—So Why Isn’t It Gay?

The all-female Ocean’s reboot hits theaters today, starring eight vibrant and galvanic women in the titular roles, and though critics are claiming Anne Hathaway stole the show (she totally did), I had my eye on the bubbling sexual tension between the two leading ladies. Debbie Ocean and Lou, played by Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, played, essentially, a couple. Many a gay have picked up on the inherent queerness of this movie and the nature of their relationship, and multiple moments in the con film nod to a relationship between the two. And while this is inarguably a gay movie put forth by lesbian propagandists as a means to convert heterosexuals and lead them down the path of righteousness—no one in the film actually confirms this relationship.

Lesbian bias aside, I can’t imagine watching this movie and not thinking Cate and Sandra have a long-winded romantic history together. First of all, the Carol actress’s character reads as extremely gay. Every outfit she wears was crafted to queer perfection, from her emerald velvet suit to her pastel suit to her jumpsuit to—look, there were suits. But if you can get past the aesthetic porn of Ocean’s 8, you’ll see there’s something real and tender between Debbie and Lou.

At times, I felt like, maybe the filmmakers are saying it without having to actually say it. While recounting her history of running cons with Lou, Debbie refers to Lou as her “partner,” which can be up for interpretation: Does this moniker exclusively refer to their business relationship, or is there something more? It’s an interesting choice of words, made more confusing by the next play.

Bullock’s extremely chic lead recalls a rock-bottom moment for the two, when they were pulling scams at an elderly home’s bingo night. Debbie refers to the period of time 10 years ago as her and Lou’s “rough patch.” Again, up for interpretation: Was it “rough” because they were strapped for cash? Or were they on the rocks romantically? Tough to say, because the moment is so catastrophically ambiguous. Queer women would interpret this moment as an exclusively lesbian admission, while clueless straight people would easily watch and think, “Aww, gal pals”—a conundrum known all too well by the gay community as The Great Straight Divide.

Additionally, there’s physical flirtations between the duo. In a diner, Sandra spoon-feeds Cate a bite of her food, in a very intimate Lady and the Tramp-esque manner. I don’t know about you, but I never delicately place forkfuls of diner food on to my platonic friends’ tongues. Whenever the duo interacts, it’s clear there’s a shared intimacy between them that the other women don’t experience with each other.

And while we’re at it, there’s another scene where Lou reprimands Debbie for trying to exact revenge on her male ex while simultaneously stealing millions of dollars worth of jewels from the Met Gala. “Do not run a job in a job,” Lou chides. But is she genuinely concerned about the ways in which Debbie’s emotional center will interfere with the job, or is she jealous that Debbie still harbors anger towards—excuse my French—a MAN! So for me, nothing about their relationship points to “just really good friends.”

All these ruminating questions are exactly why queer people feel so fed up with major studio films lately. Though the minds behind Deadpool 2 have insisted that the titular character is pansexual, and the creatives behind Solo have made the same declarations about Lando Calrissian, neither movie actually dubs either one as queer. They flirt with the idea, sure—Ryan Reynolds’ character is very touchy-feely with his male cohorts, and they play with plenty of comedic homoerotic moments. The same was done for the Ghostbusters reboot, where Kate McKinnon played the extremely gay Jillian Hotzmann, who director Paul Feig confirmed was gay, without there being any proof of such in the film (he blamed the studio). Ocean’s 8 follows suit—speculations aside, there’s no actual evidence to prove the movie is gay. And that’s frustrating.

Ideally, I would love to live in a world where films like Deadpool 2 and Ocean’s 8 have explicitly queer characters who never have to actually “come out” or make overt declarations of their queerness—they can just be and live as freely as their heterosexual counterparts, and the audience will pick up on these little nudges and quantify them as “evidence.” Unfortunately, we’re just not there yet.

I wish we didn’t have to write speculative pieces about “proving” a movie is gay. I feel like the It’s Always Sunny meme of Charlie desperately stringing together a wall of evidentiary claims. Or the deranged Carrie from Homeland who hides her wall of theories from the outside world. But until we are there—a little lesbianism can go a long way, and I know it would’ve meant a lot to me, and other people with a lesbian agenda, if Debbie or Lou had just declared it once.

And for what it’s worth, Carrie was right in the end.

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