Disney's Cruella Film Review
Disney has been on a roll recently in bringing our favourite animated movies to life in brilliant live-action. The latest of these, is Cruella (released today on Disney+), a new feature film about the rebellious early days of one of cinemas most notorious villains, Cruella de Vil. If you were expecting to follow the classic story in 101 Dalmatians, be prepared to be disappointed. Cruella is nothing of the sort and feels more 'De Vil wears Prada' exploring the origins of an anti-hero who we all grew up to despise, but it’s far from what you’d expect.
Set in 1970s London amidst the punk rock revolution, we follow a young girl named Estella (played by the fabulous, award-winning, Emma Stone) who has an appetite for mischief and dreams of becoming a fashion designer. She forms a rag-tag team with local street bandits and master thieves, Horace and Jasper, and together they are able to build a life together.
Estella gets the opportunity of a lifetime when one day her flair for fashion catches the eye of a fashion legend, Baroness von Hellman (played by two-time Oscar winner, Emma Thompson). Estella is thrilled and impresses the Baroness with her designs, but when the truth about a terrible incident comes to light, Estella embraces her wicked side and becomes the raucous, fashionable and vengeful, Cruella. What ensues is a feud of high-end fashionistas that will leave you quaking in your stilettos.
Both Emma’s are outstanding, the perfect dynamic duo, and arguably this is one of Stone’s best performances yet. She captures the essence of Cruella perfectly, particularly her narcissism, however, the PG-13 rating feels like it has restricted the film somewhat in delving into those darker undertones and themes, which would lend itself perfectly to this film. Noticeably absent is Cruella’s cigarette, and truly evil side of well, skinning dogs for their coats. But I get it, without the cute animation this would technically be a horror – not Disney’s favourite genre. I’m sure PETA wouldn’t be too pleased either.
The costumes are just as important to this movie as the dialogue and epic soundtrack, so it’s no wonder Two-time Oscar-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan was on board (whose work includes Mad Max: Fury Road). We’re talking haute couture; red carpet looks that would dazzle on any front-page magazine or newspaper.
Stone is excellent, but the wonderfully cast Emma Thompson channels the aristocratic, idealistic diva so effortlessly, it allows both actresses to shine.
Disney hasn’t been black or white with Cruella, it’s rather grey, and you find yourself wanting her to go a little bit deeper into the dark side. It doesn’t quite work as an origin story, but it is enjoyable, both wicked, wildly stylish, and slightly more grown-up. And even if Cruella isn’t as evil as expected, there is no denying she really is “a little bit mad”.