All-female crime caper Ocean’s 8 is too sleek to be truly fun

Their scheme runs like Rolex clockwork. You never feel the shiver of risk.

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The release of Ocean’s 8, an all-female restyling of the Ocean’s movies of the Noughties, comes just as fashion-adjacent con artistes are having a moment. The story of the 27-year-old socialite Anna Delvey, who defrauded friends of thousands of dollars, made for thrilling features in Vanity Fair and New York Magazine – Shonda Rhimes even acquired the rights. The similarly glamorous 25-year-old Yvonne Bannigan made the New York Post for being charged with stealing $50,000 from Vogue icon Grace Coddington. These stories, too, call back to an earlier time of infamous fashion scams: the Noughties era of the Bling Ring (who raided the closets of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton) and the so-called Hipster Grifter, Kari Ferrell. The New Yorker declared it “Grifter Season”.

In Ocean’s 8 a fantasy cast of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter and Awkwafina team up to steal the ultimate fashion loot from the ultimate fashion event: a $150m Cartier necklace (“spectacular, blingy, big ol’ Liz Taylor jewels”) is lifted from the neck of a guest at the Met Gala. Anne Hathaway is sublimely ludicrous as the owner of that swanlike neck – the stroppy, sensual actress Daphne Kluger. The simple pleasure of seeing such stylish, charismatic actresses bounce off one another with naughty glee is enough for this film to fulfil its purpose.

Perhaps, though, there’s something too sleek about this heist and its flawless overseers. Their scheme runs like Rolex clockwork, smoothly bringing in more than they’d hoped, slight slips revealed to be choreographed. You never feel the shiver of risk. The chaos, the Icarian foolishness, and the sheer vanity of the Great American Fashion Scammers is left behind – and I missed it.

Anna Leszkiewicz is the New Statesman's deputy culture editor.

This article first appeared in the 15 June 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Who sunk Brexit?