Summer Movies: <I>Ocean's 8</I>
Issue: June 1, 2018

Summer Movies: Ocean's 8

It’s the heist of all heists — $150 million in diamonds to be worn by actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) during the annual Met Gala event in New York City. Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), a career thief, has a plan to steal them. She spent the past five years, eight months and 12 days planning the job from her prison cell. Upon her release, she contacts her old partner in crime Lou (Cate Blanchett) to work with her and set the plot in motion. 

Onscreen, the two put together an outstandingly talented team of thieves — including a jeweler, street con, fashion designer and a hacker. Offscreen, director Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Free State of Jones) put together a stellar team of his own for the Warner Bros. production, starting with the all-star, all-female cast (that, in addition to Bullock, Blanchett and Hathaway, also includes Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter and Awkwafina) and below-the-line talents of DP Eigil Bryld, production designer Alex DiGerlando and Oscar-nominated editor Juliette Welfling ( The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) who Post had a chance to catch up with while she was back in her homeland of France, already working on her next project.

According to Ross, “The outlaw trope has always been at the heart of American movies, but with few exceptions, those ‘outlaws’ have been men. I was intrigued with the idea of a group of kickass women laying claim to this genre that had always seemed off limits. Plus, I love heist movies —always have.”

“The actresses all delivered their lines very well – so they all did their jobs, and Gary did, too!” Welfling (pictured) laughs. “The actresses each have their own personalities, and are really, really different and all together, the eight of them go very well together.”

Welfling, who worked with Ross previously on Free State of Jones and The Hunger Games, jokes that she hopes she wasn’t called back again to edit out of coincidence but because “he likes the way I edit.”

Welfling was nominated for an Academy Award for her editing on Julian Schnabel’s 2007 drama The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, also winning a César Award in her native France for her work on the film.

In addition, she has won four more César Awards for Best Editing, for See How They Fall, The Beat That My Heart Skipped, A Prophet and Rust and Bone, all for director Jacques Audiard. Welfling has also been nominated for César Awards for her editing of The Past, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, and Audiard’s Read My Lips and Dheepan.

Edited all of Audiard’s films, Welfling is now working on the upcoming The Sisters Brothers, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Joaquin Phoenix, due out in 2019.

“In France, I don’t do many action movies,” she says. “So, to me it’s always a challenge to get these movies. What challenges me, are the car chases and guns and that type of thing. Here, it’s handled more lightly. And the movie is not only about action; there are true characters, so it was not very difficult for me to edit.”

The film, which was shot on-location in New York City on Arri Alexa cameras, was also edited in New York at Postworks, “which was close to where Gary lived,” Welfling says. She spent about nine months editing the film, on an Avid, and feels that perhaps Ross called her in on this latest project for her European sensibility. “I think that maybe he likes my style of editing. I don’t know how to define it, but I would say it’s different. He likes some of the movies I’m cutting. He doesn’t really want to do a typical Hollywood movie, I think, but of course you would have to ask him. In France, it’s more intimate, the movies we’re making. I try to always keep that in mind, so that to make the characters more important than the action, in a way, which doesn’t prevent the action from happening, but to me, I always try to feel something and to cut with my feelings than with my head. And it’s the same if it’s an American movie or a French movie. The difference is, of course, American movies are very expensive, compared to the ones we do in France, so it’s a big responsibility in a way, but I try to manage.”

According to Welfling, her favorite scene to edit was, well, “You will recognize it when you see it – it’s the biggest scene in the movie,” she laughs. “And it was a challenge. Like, in every Oceans movie, there’s a heist, and this one is really cool. I guess it’s my favorite scene. It’s fun. So many things happening — and it was a challenge because it’s this huge sequence and it’s fun to watch as well. These women are really smart and what they do is fun. That was my favorite.”

Welfling adds that the scene is “the heart of the movie. They prepare for it, throughout the whole movie, so when it arrives, it needs to be beautiful, like the end of a fireworks display. The last, beautiful part of the fireworks — the finale. It’s the same idea. It has to be intriguing, but also fun, but you also need to fear for them. It’s a long scene, so for all those reasons, it’s fun and a challenge at the same time.”