When you meet someone who is just evil to the core, do you ever wonder what or whom made them that way? Who didn’t love them enough? Where and how did they grow up? Will they ever be capable kindness? This is what we often wonder about villains in any genre, whether it be animated. live-action, comedy or drama. Of course, one of our favorite villainesses to boo-hiss upon is Cruella de Vil from the Disney classic 101 Dalmations. Why does she have dalmations? Why is her hair black and white? Why does she feel upper crust, yet gutter-fabulous all at the same time. Cruella provides all the answers to that and more with this stylishly octane fueled origin tale that I affectionately refer to as a tale of two Emmas (Stone and Thompson). As the Baroness so deliciously declares, “…you can’t care about anyone else, everyone else is an obstacle…you care what an obstacle wants – you’re dead.” And with that, we are off to one of the most exciting Disney films I witnessed in a minute.
Set in 1970s London punk rock revolution, a young grifter named Estella (Emma Stone) is determined to make a name for herself as a designer. After befriending fellow grifters Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser), who appreciate her appetite for mischief, the trio learns to survive and build a life for themselves on the streets . By happenstance, Estella’s flair for fashion catches the eye of the legendarily chic Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson). However, their relationship sets in motion a course of events and revelations causing Estella to embrace her wicked side and become the raucous, fashionable and revenge filled Cruella.
Other than the devilishly delightful performances from the two Emma’s, the non-speaking co-star of Cruella are the soundtrack, production, hair, makeup and costume designs which easily steal the show with fashion so spectacular. it would make any designer truly cringe with envy. When Stone lights a cig to reveal a frock in my favorite color ever…I was spent in every way humanly possible.
Emma Stone and Emma Thompson are slashing their way through the screenplay with assassin like precision easily giving each other a run for their money. Stone never has a false note while deilvering Harley Quinn/Miranda Priestly realness. She is EVERYTHING!!! Of course, Emma Thompson is well…Emma Thompson and she always brings the thunder whether she is acting, directing or wrtiting. There are so many memorable scenes, but one that sears my brain is where Stone hitches a ride on a garbage truck as the tail of her 60 foot gown billows in the wind – truly fabulousity at its best!
Paul Walter Hauser is hilairously gauche, which is such a departure from his dramatic turns in Blackkklasman and Richard Jewell, but I was there for every single second of it. Kirby Howell-Baptiste is a gifted and more than capable actress, whose only moment to shine is during a brief altercation with The Baroness, but my girl holds it all the way down and then some.
Cruella is the Disney film I have been waiting for. A little naughty. A little nice and a lot of stellar character performances directed to perfection by Craig Gillespie. Produced by Disney, Cruella hit theatres and streams simultaneously on Disney Plus Friday, May 28th.