Belfast Telegraph

Review: Oceans 8 - revenge in air for all-girl crime caper

 

By Damon Smith

Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway hope to steal the box office crown with this comic crime caper headlined by an all-female cast, which continues the misadventures of the Ocean family from Steven Soderbergh's trilogy headlining George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

Danny Ocean's light-fingered sister Debbie (Bullock) emerges from an eight-year stint behind bars with revenge on her mind.

She is determined to dish up a full platter of just deserts to former lover Claude Becker (Richard Armitage), who embroiled her in a fraud scheme then betrayed Debbie by testifying against her to secure her conviction.

Debbie plans to frame Becker for the theft of a $50m necklace and assembles a crack crew of women including best friend Lou (Blanchett), Tammy (Sarah Paulson), jeweller Amita (Mindy Kaling), fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), professional thief Constance (Awkwafina) and technical wizard Nine Ball (Rihanna).

Three stars

Hereditary

Modern horror films seldom prioritise nerve-shredding suspense - the kind of creeping dread that sends beads of sweat trickling down your spine and haunts your waking dreams.

Instead, we're spoon-fed a familiar diet of senseless slaughter and jump scares like a malevolent force emerging at speed from darkness to a blast of staccato strings on the soundtrack.

The last film to achieve that high-wire act of sustained, unbearable tension was Robert Eggers's supernatural thriller, The Witch.

Writer-director Ari Aster's twisted family portrait comes close to repeating the feat, only to descend into madness with a loopy final act that will sharply divide and perplex audiences who have been biting their nails down to the cuticle for the previous 90 minutes.

Annie Graham (Toni Collette) is deeply affected by the death of her estranged mother, who cast a long shadow over the family and took Annie's daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) under her wing.

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Star of show: Toni Collette

Following the secretive matriarch's funeral, Annie begins to sense a presence in the family home, and her erratic behaviour causes grave concern for husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) and son Peter (Alex Wolff).

As the disturbances within the house increase, Annie makes a bold decision that has terrifying repercussions for her loved ones.

Hereditary slowly tightens a knot of discomfort, heightened by a bravura lead performance from Collette, who turns silent screams into an artform.

The resolution is an anti-climax after the film has spent more than an hour dragging the narrative's nails down a blackboard.

However, there is no denying that Aster engineers some creepy moments, one of which made me audibly gasp.

Four stars

The Happy Prince: Self-destructive finale to a Wilde life

Taking its title from a short story for children by Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince is an elegiac account of the final years of the Irish playwright and poet following his incarceration for gross indecency.

The film is a passion project for director, writer and lead actor Rupert Everett, who slipped effortlessly into Wilde's skin in 2012 in a revival of David Hare's play The Judas Kiss at Hampstead Theatre in London, which transferred to the West End and New York.

Everett's deep emotional connection to his subject is evident in a compelling, nuanced performance that doesn't shy away from the self-destructive impulses that led Wilde to his grave during a tumultuous exile in France at the turn of the 20th century.

His fall from grace is agonisingly slow and painful, and the script takes its time to explore the various personal relationships that sustained Wilde in his twilight years and also tore him apart.

The Happy Prince wades artfully through the despair of Wilde's exile in France - interspersed with pungent flashbacks including his transfer to Reading Gaol by train when jeering passengers spat in his face.

The script is peppered with bon mots that hint at the dying genius of a man, whose great sin was to be afflicted by "the love that dare not speak its name".

It took almost 120 years for Wilde to be granted a posthumous pardon. Therein lies true shame.

Three stars

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