A young Estella (Emma Stone) is a troubled young girl who earns the nickname Cruella in her youth. After an accident with her mother, Estella is orphaned, so she must resort to thievery in order to survive. But when she unexpectedly lands a job for her idol, The Baroness (Emma Thompson), she starts becoming a bit mad, but is totally in her element.
After Maleficent, Cruella is latest Disney villain origin story that waters down and sympathizes the villain. We all know Cruella as the puppy napping crazy lady who wants to skin them for a coat. Stone’s Cruella is not that same Cruella and from this movie alone, it is unclear if she will eventually become the Cruella we know or if this film serves as a retcon.
Cruella is a Devil Wears Prada tale with a punk rock spin that I ultimately enjoyed. Stone delivers a wickedly electric performance as Cruella. While Cruella does not try to murder puppies here, we do see how selfish and obsessive she becomes. She disregards her two closest friends, Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Houser) in order to go after her own desires and ambitions.
Thompson is also a delight and stands up to Stone quite well. The Baroness is incredibly cold and does whatever it takes to come out on top. The aspect I most enjoyed was the one upping that Cruella and The Baroness battled through as they tried to out-fashion each other. The costumes here are quite breathtaking, inventive, and daring. It was always fun to see each outfit being revealed and the competitiveness that results from that. The film is a shoe-in to win Best Costume Design at this year’s Academy Awards.
The CGI can be quite noticeable and even cringey at times, not to mention that some plot points are rather silly. Cruella is not exactly a kids film. Your 5 year old may not be too interested in the film, but it may be enjoyable for some older kids (10 and up) that are into fashion.
While the music is rocking and captures 70s London perfectly well, it does feel like needle drop after needle drop. The 2 and a half hour run-time also feels a bit unnecessary since the film does drag at some points. Director Craig Gillespie brings style and a bit of humanity to his devilish protagonist. Again, the costumes are just stunning. I will be interested to see what Cruella 2 will entail, but I will definitely check it out whenever it comes out.
I give Cruella a B+
Also shout out Wink the dog, you stole my heart.