OK, here’s a can’t-miss movie idea: Oz’s Eleven.
It’s a stylish heist caper based, of course, on the Soderbergh/Clooney remake of Ocean’s Eleven. I’m picturing an all-star, all-Australian cast — Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Geoffrey Rush, Anthony LaPaglia, Chris Hemsworth … you get the idea.
But the real star will be Jacki Weaver as the villain — the odious and predatory heiress to a mining fortune. She’ll be a completely over-the-top caricature of the awful, useless, bloated, predatory global upper class. She’ll say ridiculous, horrifying things, lecturing poor people by saying:
If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself — spend less time drinking, or smoking and socializing and more time working.
Or she’ll say that all Australians are lazy because they refuse to work for $2 a day.
Playing someone so hideously villainous will be a challenge for Weaver — going beyond even her Oscar-nominated role as the monstrous Cody matriarch in Animal Kingdom. But I think she can pull it off.
Such a broadly repulsive villain might seem a bit much, but it will ensure that the audiences sympathy lies with our merry band of thieves.
That’s the tricky thing about heist movies, after all, stealing is wrong. If you need to get the audience cheering for thieves, then you have to show them stealing from someone who really seems to deserve having their vast fortune whisked away. This horrifying villain would be the epitome of unearned and undeserved wealth, someone who did nothing to earn her fortune yet who nonetheless wields it as an oppressive, exploitative weapon.
Once audiences catch a glimpse of this woman, you can be sure they’ll be eager to see a masterful heist that cuts her down to size.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not defending real theft in real life. But in a work of fiction, it would be cathartic to see a character like this — someone who’s practically inviting, practically daring thieves to target her vast, unearned fortune — getting her comeuppance.
It would be a story, as Oscar Wilde put it, in which, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”