Directed by: Craig Gillespie
Produced by: Emma Stone, Michelle Wright, Jared LeBoff, Glenn Close
Starring: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Mark Strong
Run Time: 134 mins
Available on: Disney+ (Premier Access)
Set in 1970s London, Cruella follows a young genius with huge dreams of dominating the fashion industry. Destined to be a designer, Estella isn't known for patience or following the rules even as a child. As she’s forced to leave her school, her mother takes her to London but when tragedy strikes on the journey, Estella is left to fend for herself. Alongside her new family, she discovers dark secrets that have been kept from her for far too long which encourage her to force Estella aside and let Cruella take charge of her epic revenge plans.
“They say there are five stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Well, I'd like to add one more. Revenge.”
Released on May 28th, Cruella is one of the first new releases to debut in theatres again. Following the story of well-known Disney villain Cruella de Vil, the film focuses heavily on the emerging punk scene ‘70s London is often known for and brings together an incredible group of characters to accomplish a number of perfect revenge heists. One thing many were sceptical about prior to the film’s release, was how Disney could possibly redeem a villain known for killing puppies. Cynicism is understandable, but the film tackled the somewhat questionable morals associated with the villain well.
Despite the puppy-killing tendencies the traditional Cruella de Vil character comes with, the screenplay, writing and Emma Stone’s performance create a likeable character that you find yourself backing for the majority of the film. One way around making a villain likeable is to show an often tragic backstory, which Cruella did well. The introduction to Estella’s past right at the beginning of the film allowed the audience to understand her trauma without feeling too long or unnecessary in any way. The introduction to young Estella also leaves us with a huge mystery, was this an accidental tragedy? Or was it murder?
The film was excellently cast, and there wasn’t a weak character in sight. Emma Stone, previously known for her roles in La La Land alongside Ryan Gosling and The Amazing Spider-Man alongside Andrew Garfield, really brings out each side of her character, portraying both Estella and Cruella as completely different people while still retaining that familiar feeling and similarity between the two. She really took the character in a great direction and proved that Cruella was “born brilliant, born bad, and a little bit mad.” Emma Thompson has so many previous attributes including Harry Potter, Men In Black: International and Love Actually. She brings a powerful feel to the character, you know as soon as she steps onto the screen that she’s a woman with authority, a woman who is respected for her achievements. Her character doesn't falter even as her plans unravel, and we’re quickly made aware that she is one powerful villain.
Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser have incredible chemistry and really add a comedic presence to the film without becoming just funny friends supporting the main character. They really do create a family and are not to be underestimated. With nods to 101 Dalmatians throughout the film, we eventually get to see the two most famous Dalmatians at the end. Overall, Cruella creates a relatable and likeable side to its main character without compromising her villainous side. She still comes across as slightly mad, incredibly intelligent, and wickedly cunning at the same time.
Fashion-wise, the film has nods to some of the most memorable and ground-breaking pieces from the time such as Alexander McQueen’s monarch butterfly dress and Dior’s leather and lace style. Each of the dresses featured in the film was exquisitely made and was highlighted by the cinematography. The entire film was incredibly well shot, with a clear colour scheme and few memorable locations. Cruella has been put together by an incredible group of people with a clearly similar vision. The whole production has come together exceptionally well and has been a great reintroduction to the cinema again.
If you haven't already seen Cruella and don’t want to venture out to the nearest cinema, premier access to the film is available to purchase on Disney+ right now! Whether watching in the cinema or at home, the film is definitely one I'd recommend checking out at some point. Everything from production to performances to costume design has come together incredibly well to create a truly amazing final product.
“I'm not sweet Estella, try as I might. I never was. I'm Cruella, born brilliant, born bad, and a little bit mad.
Words by Chloe Pollard.