We’ve gotten a lot of evidence over the years of Cate Blanchett’s greatness and charm and sex appeal and talent. We’ve seen her showcase a lot of facets of a lot of people. In Carol, we saw her be regal and subtly glamorous and determined. In Blue Jasmine, we saw her be raw and desperate and unraveling. In Thor: Ragnorak, we saw her be searing and fearsome and powerful. In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, we saw her be glowing and serene. And now, in Ocean’s Eight, we get to see her be just so fucking cool.
You know how when you’re nervous or overwhelmed or frightened (like maybe you just almost stepped off a curb without paying attention but caught yourself at the last second and avoided getting hit by a bus) and your breathing speeds up along with your heart rate? But the urgency – the nerves or fear or overwhelmption – passes and so you concentrate really hard and finally get your breathing back to being mostly steady – so it’s slowed, but it’s still heavier than usual – and no one else can probably tell but *you* still can and so you worry someone else maaaybe actually *can* tell but yeah no you’re fairly sure you have it well enough in hand now that it’s just your little – not actually dirty, but it feels kind of dirty because you’ve been focused on it for so long at this point – secret? Just your own slowly steadying and still slightly heavy breathing secret? That feeling. That’s Cate Blanchett being cool. And she does it all over this goddamn movie.
Allow me to elaborate.
Ok wait. First allow me to disclaim: I did not get screeners or early access or anything else that allowed me to watch this movie ahead of its release or rewatch or pause or anything like that. I’m just a woman who adores/covets Cate Blanchett and who, when Kim texted me “How would you feel about maybe writing an ode to Cate Blanchett and Ocean’s 8,” responded immediately with “Oh my god whaaaaaaaaaaat YES I WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE THAT.” When Head Over Feels says “We just figured that if we were going to do anything on it that you should do it,” you feel more honored than you ever have in your life, and then you figure out the earliest possible showing you can go to. So I went to the earliest Thursday evening show (does opening night officially mean nothing anymore ok cool) at the movie theater near my office and took occasional notes in the dark, trying my best not to disturb my fellow viewers while I blindly scribbled in big enough handwriting that hopefully I’d be able to make it out later.
Ok, now I’m ready to elaborate, in roughly the order of the notes I scratched furiously in the dark. Please to enjoy a spoiler-free, Cate Blanchett-full recounting of my first viewing of Ocean’s Eight.
Jesus Christ I’m so primed for this, even the opening notes playing over the production cards are titillating.
THE FIRST OUTFIT IS RED LEATHER PANTS AND A BLACK LEATHER JACKET AND SHE IS SITTING CASUALLY RED ALERT THEY ARE NOT FUCKING AROUND FROM THE GET GO
In her first scene, we learn she runs a nightclub and walks around like a goddamn badass. We also learn, in increasing order of importance: how she mildly cheats her customers, how fucking incredibly she dresses, and how effortlessly she uses casual touches in her interactions with women.
Her cheekbones are tenderly aggressive and her vocal tone is like if you had a nagging itch on your ankle for weeks and then all of a sudden someone handed you a piece of fine grit sandpaper.
She uses a fully amused but only half-full, half-volume laugh to indicate she approves of and/or appreciates that thing you just said – but the slight bit of envy she feels at not having said it herself gets stuck in her throat for a sec.
DARK GREEN VELVET SUIT and also black eyeliner and bangs in her eyes (that – thank GOD – do not cover her eyes the entire movie) and so many great accessories.
She lets herself get convinced pretty easily and immediately. All it takes is a bite of food from Sandy’s fork and the word “baby” from Sandy’s mouth. Oh right. She and Sandra Bullock call each other “honey” and “baby.” It’s fine.
But really, her goddamn accessories y’all. I’m telling you what. Necklaces over neckties and chunky bracelets crowding watches and LITTLE CLUSTERS OF PINS ON POWDER BLUE SUIT LAPELS, oh my. (A powder blue suit that is SLIMMMMMMMMMMM cut and has pointy shoulders.) She wears things like a bunny mask or a sleeping mask as a kind of headband, but a headband that’s not actually serving the purpose of holding hair back. Just because why wouldn’t she, I guess? And rings that would make Harry Styles weep or swoon or more likely both. Honestly, her entire wardrobe would.
Cate Source: Broadly.com Harry Source: @harris_reed
I may have a type.
Cate Source: ABC Harry Source: Vogue
She uses physical contact like punctuation. She puts her hands on you and chews gum sternly while gently persuading you to do the things she would like for you to do. But putting her hands on you isn’t enough, and also it’s too much. She doesn’t need to. Not when she can just crowd your space a little. Just a little. She can just sit or stand a little closer than she needs to. Just, turn toward you a bit, not even all the way. And maybe hunch her shoulders just slightly in your direction while she’s turned toward you that bit. And she’ll be chewing gum while she does it, too. Subtly. Just enough so you notice. Hoo girl do you notice that.
I can only describe what she does as loitering. She loiters in your personal space. Sitting next to you on a park bench. Sitting beside you in a cab. Standing next to you at Subway while you order your sandwich.
Gum chewing isn’t the only mundane thing she does sternly, either. She uses a bubble machine that way too. Whatever intimidation is when you replace 1/6 of it with teasing gentleness, that’s what she does. And it is effective.
Spot the difference.
Bubble Pic via @AnneHathaway, Bunny pic via spontaneouswhimsy.com
She pronounces Cartier correctly but somehow manages NOT to sound like an asshole when she says it.
Oh hey real quick while I have you here: Friendly reminder that diamonds being “more valuable” than zirconium is completely manufactured bullshit and you don’t have to buy into it if you don’t want to!
You all know this from the trailer and set pictures and the promo, but there are just so many outfits. All of them bangers. All of them accessorized to within an inch of my life.
She does a perfect turtle face exactly one time. It is not necessary for her to be able to do this. And yet she can. Don’t know what face I mean? This one:
She casually lights and half-waves a zippo around in a way that reverses every menstrual cramp I’ve ever had. Even the ones that were so bad they woke me up in the middle of the night. Flip of the cap, flick of the wrist. What are cramps? Never happened.
A VEST WITHOUT A SHIRT UNDERNEATH I REPEAT A VEST WITHOUT A SHIRT UNDERNEATH MEANING THE VEST SERVES AS THE SHIRT WE ARE LIVING IN A GOLDEN AGE
She leans back and crosses her legs SO SMUGLY when she’s proud of Sandy B for being/saying something badass.
Basically, she half-smirks always. Not literally always. But mostly always. Sometimes she smolders too. In a delicate, measured way. Not in the way most people use a smolder – to try to seduce you or at least get your attention. To have a desired effect of some kind. Cate’s isn’t menacingly welcoming the way smolders tend to be. Hers is incidental. Inherent.
CRISIS ALERT: CATE ON A MOTORCYCLE
She puts on hand sanitizer at one point. Do you hear me? You know putting hand sanitizer on requires rubbing your hands together, right? These hands:
You might have noticed there is nary a bold-red-lipped Cate in this post. And it’s because that’s true in the movie as a whole – best I can recall. And I think I would recall it. I know this fact might make Maggie furious. Or at least disappointed. And I can’t pretend I myself don’t love a red-lipped Cate. She wears that (/everything) so extremely well. But despite my desire for Maggie to literally feel nothing even as bad as disappointment ever in this life, I’m actually very ok with Cate’s barely-there lip color (/everything). In the confines of Ocean’s Eight at least. I think maybe it’s that the relative similarity in color between her skin and lips makes it easier to imagine yourself getting gently sucked into her being via the gravitational force of her smirk.
Finally: Her post-heist outfit. Ok. Listen to me. I never would have imagined that an outfit description could be a spoiler. But I now believe it is possible. So I will not describe it here. But please know it affected me deeply. And I will think about it once every 4 seconds for the foreseeable future. And as soon as you have seen this movie, please join me at the nearest roller skating rink so we can couple-skate around and yell to each other about Cate Blanchett’s post-heist outfit, pausing every few rounds at the DJ booth to make a request. For Cate Blanchett’s post-heist outfit.
So yeah. She’s cool as hell in this movie. In this movie that is filled with cool as hell women doing cool as hell things with barely any mens in sight, her particular brand of simultaneously intentional and instinctual coolness RADIATES. She doesn’t even really have that much screen time or that many lines. In this ensemble, Sandra Bullock is the only one that stands slightly aside as an arguable lead. Cate is Sandy’s partner, but she’s still very embedded in the ensemble. And I think that’s to protect us all. Because if Lou had the screen time of Carol or Jasmine or God help us Elizabeth I, I don’t think I would have been able to stay conscious, let alone take notes.
The thing that will keep me up tonight though, is my firm belief that this character is closest to who Cate really is. I feel it in my BONES. So strongly that it’s not drowned out by all the other things I’m feeling in all my other places.
So come join me in the comments, won’t you? I am available to discuss this woman and this movie and literally nothing else for as long as society will allow me.