As Ocean’s 8 hits the theatres on June 8, it brings to the screen the rare breed of con women, who are cool and suave.

Most women in action or con films are portrayed as sex symbols. These women are either reduced to being romantic interests or damsels in distress.

There are not many female con artist characters, who have run away with the idea that women can carry off characters which are smart, cool and deceptive.

From books to screen adaptations, Irene Adler is the oldest and the smartest con artist in the fictional world we have ever come across. The woman was smart enough to beat Sherlock Holmes! While Adler’s character has seen many screen adaptations, the most recent one on-screen, which all of us might remember was in the 2009 Robert Downey Jr. starrer Sherlock Holmes, in which Rachel McAdams played Adler. Though Adler needed some rescuing by Holmes, in the jarring slaughter-house sequence, McAdams brought a certain lustre and likability to this mysterious character.

Another popular on-screen con woman is Tess, who goes from being the bone of contention between Daniel Ocean and Terry Benedict in Ocean’s 11 to be the part of the gang Ocean’s 12. Julia Roberts, who was actually pregnant while filming this movie, played a pregnant Tess who tries to pass off as Julia Roberts (yup, you read that right) in order to steal the Fabergé Imperial Coronation Egg.

Tess is not your cool catty con artist. She is an unwilling accomplice who becomes a con artist at her husband’s coaxing. However, she ends up enjoying her part in the scam.

Then we have Amy Adams’ Sydney Prosser from American Hustle, who is a con artist in a relationship with her much-married partner. Prosser not only cons the politicians, but also manages to gain attention of the FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). Imagine his dismay when his dame of dreams switches her accent from British to American in a scene and reveals that she is in fact from Albuquerque!

Always in the frame, but never at the centre

Films like Gone in 60 SecondsFocus21Now You See Me and its sequel also featured female con artists. However not one con film has been from a female perspective, putting the women in the driving seat. Which is where Ocean’s 8 scores big. This is probably the first con film solely centered around a heist conducted by women.

The star power behind this project, with names like Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling and Helena Bonham Carter makes it unmissable. But why is it important to have a con film driven by women?

Because con films with men at their centre never give much power to female characters. They are, at best, a vital part of the schemes, but never the one to call the shots.

Ocean’s 8 brings to us women, who plan, execute and even walk away in style.  It makes us rethink the way we view con movies – a genre ruled by cool men and their female accomplices. So, it doesn’t matter if Ocean’s 8 isn’t a cinematic masterpiece. It is path-breaking in its own genre, and that sets it apart. Perhaps it would do to the genre of con films what Wonder Woman did to superhero genre or Kill Bill did to the action genre.

All we have to do is to watch it.

Photo Credit : Warner Bros. Pictures

Also Read : First Look Of ‘Ocean’s 8’ Reveals All-Women Cast

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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