Cruella is a 2021 crime comedy film based on the character Cruella de Vil from the 1956 novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians. The film is a live action origin story for the titular character and stars Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser.
Cruella follows Estella Miller, an aspiring fashion designer as she navigates her way through the punk rock movement of the 1970s, before becoming the notorious fashion designer known as Cruella de Vil. Cruella is the third live-action adaptation in the 101 Dalmatians franchise and serves as an origin story for one of Disney’s most iconic villains.
First and foremost, Cruella’s 1970s punk rock London setting is without doubt the best backdrop to any live action Disney film we’ve seen so far! From the stunningly accurate costume design for each and every character to the apt soundtrack throughout the film, it’s hard not to get immersed into the fashion filled punk rock world of Cruella! Not only does the whole setting to the film feel authentic, the detail Disney went to in creating a genuinely realistic origin story for Cruella brings an added authenticity to the film.
With a runtime of 134 minutes, Cruella does feel a little unnecessarily lengthy on the whole. There’s plenty of action and subplots throughout the film to keep you engaged, but there were a few scenes which could have been condensed or removed altogether, simply to counter a few pacing issues the film has. Another minor issue with the narrative is that Cruella at times feels like it sacrifices substance over style. For how brilliant Cruella is visually, there are points within the story which do feel a little predictable and flat. Nevertheless, the story as a whole is a captivating take on Cruella de Vil’s origins.
With the film following Estella’s journey to becoming notorious fashion designer Cruella de Vil, there’s a heavy focus throughout the film on fashion and with fashion, comes breathtaking costumes! I was blown away by some of the costumes and concepts in Cruella and a huge deal of credit must go to costume designer Jenny Beavan for bringing the various costumes to life. Again, the fashion focus and dazzling costumes only emphasise the feel of authenticity the film has.
Glenn Close famously starred as Cruella de Vil in both previous Disney live-action adaptations, 101 Dalmatians and 102 Dalmatians and its clear to see where Emma Stone gained her inspiration from for the titular character. Emma Stone’s performance as Cruella is absolutely fantastic and Stone’s rendition of Cruella could easily be conceived as a younger version of Glenn Close’s character. Emma Stone is the beating heart of Cruella and it’s clear to see that she fully immersed herself into the role, in what my opinion, was perfect casting.
The performances from the supporting cast are equally as fantastic, with stand out performances from both Emma Thompson and Paul Walter Hauser. Emma Thompson plays the films lead antagonist the ‘Baroness’ and she is a relentless, ice-cold villain. Her rapport with Emma Stone’s character provide for some of the best moments in the film, with both characters going head to head on a hellbent warpath. Paul Walter Hauser plays Horace and provides for some brilliant comic relief throughout the film, delivering well timed gags and some hilarious slapstick comedy.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with Cruella on the whole. I really enjoyed the unique take on Cruella’s origin story and its combination of fashion and a 1970s punk rock setting make Cruella a visual delight. I’m looking forward to seeing where Disney take Cruella in the sequel!
With a stellar performance from Emma Stone and a stunning 1970s backdrop, Cruella is one of Disney’s best live action adaptations to date.