Cruella

Cruella

Disney's Cruella is a delightfully twisted and campy origin story that proves to be the perfect showcase for its stars, Emma Stone and Emma Thompson. Perhaps a tad darker than we’re used to from Disney (there are some truly distressing moments), this look at how Cruella—Ms. De Vil, if you’re nasty—came to be the wicked wonder we know provides more than enough pomp, puppies, and panache to keep things interesting, if not riveting.

The film, largely set amid the glam and punk rock revolution of 1970s, follows rebellious young Estella (Tipper Seifert-Cleveland) as she attempts to live her dream and break into the notoriously insular world of high fashion. With little in the way of family or possessions, her mischievous and creative nature endears her to two young grifters and together they forge a merry band of thieves eking out a living on the crowded streets of Swinging London. The years go by and Estella (now Emma Stone) gets her big break–a position at Liberty, the city’s most luxurious and high-end department store. Though she starts there as a cleaner, her flair for fashion with a side of chaos and drama catches the discerning eye of the biggest name in the business—Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson), an iconic designer at the top of her game. The Baroness is both fabulously fashionable and ruthless to the core. Imperious in every aspect of her life, she treats her staff like indentured servants and spitefully takes credit for all of their ideas and hard work. Though briefly a kind of mentor to Estella, their relationship takes a turn and Estella embraces her wicked side, Cruella, in order to upstage and take down the real villain of the piece—The Baroness.

Director Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya) brings us a different kind of Cruella here. While she may have the same flair for the wicked and dramatic as her animated and live-action predecessors, this Cruella is softer around the edges and far more interested in achieving her dream of having her genius recognised by the world than on destroying dogs for dresses. The writers—of which there are five—spend a great deal of the film’s overlong 134-minute runtime ensuring our anti-hero’s motivations are empathetic, including her dislike of those spotty Dalmatians, with varying degrees of success. What they do achieve by the time the credits roll, is a three-dimensional, layered version of the Cruella we’ve always loved to hate. Only now we might just love her a little more and hate her a little less.

Read Emma Badame's full review: thatshelf.com/disneys-cruella-review-chaotic-fashionable-fun/