Cruella (2021) Early Review: A Debonair Origin Story Success (Written by Anna Miller)
As far as live action remakes go, Cruella may perhaps be Disney’s best yet.
Gillespie’s direction coupled with the likes of Stone and Thompson’s star power makes for a sharp and stylish cruise down origin story lane in the streets of 70s punk rock London.
We follow, of course, the infamous Cruella on her transformation from troubled, bicolor haired youngster to unhinged fashion empress with a flair for the dramatic and an insatiable hunger for revenge. The film does a splendidly fun job at painting just what made “Estella” become “Cruella” in the most stylish way imaginable. From the catalyst that sparked her hatred of Dalmatians to her mysterious familial past and iconic spotted canine-pelt coat, we, the audience are plunged into the dark and twisty tale of this classic character. And it’s so fun.
Emma Stone seems to have a blast in taking on this role as she fully commits to encapsulating the psyche of de Vil. She nails the aura, the looks (of which she has 47), and in a similar manner to how Margot Robbie has become married to Harley Quinn, I cannot picture anyone else a better fit for this role than Stone. The other starring Emma, Thompson, also plays a titular role as the Baroness and commands the screen just as much as Stone does in her scenes. Their performances as well as the ones of the supplementary characters are only aided by Gillespie’s fabulous direction and vision, which is unmistakable, precise and satisfying.
The sets are extraordinary and the costumes are extravagant. We are treated to the revolt and anarchy-ridden back streets of 70s punk rock London as well as deliciously chic wardrobes of flowing gowns, leather pants, bomber jackets and knee high boots. Our fashionista’s classic black and white color scheme is surely a prominent ingredient, but it’s enhanced by bold splashes of color throughout to make it all the more alluring to the eyes. Not to mention the soundtrack, which in all its classic punk rock glory couples perfectly with the edgy vibe so much of the film adopts. All these aspects unite to make the film utterly scrumptious to view; it’s so methodically vogue in its approach and in that facet, it knocks it out of Hyde Park.
It was also a surprise to find the film tackling topics and themes such as individuality, passion, acceptance and self discovery. They’re underlying, but they’re there; I was pleasantly delighted to find quite a bit of heart in many moments throughout, which provides the film with even more dimension and raises stakes. But although there’s some family friendly ideals infused within, this isn’t exactly one for the kiddies— and it shouldn’t be. If they were going to have as much creative freedom necessary to tell a villain origin story such as this one in this way, they needed to ‘up the ante’ in the intensity department; in fact, I believe they could’ve gone even a bit further and had some fun with it. But really, it’s Disney and there’s so much fun to be had already.
Cruella has the finesse, the star power, solid writing, direction and style to be an utter success. In the wrong hands, this could’ve easily been another flop of a live action adaptation, but satisfyingly enough, they didn’t drop the ball with this one. It balances suave chaos with voguish fun, a little bit of heart and it coalesces into a triumph. And absolutely everyone on screen- and their mother- looks so damn good doing it.
Cruella gets a 4/5!!!