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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Rate and Review: ‘Cruella’ tells the backstory of one of Disney’s infamous villains

Emma Stone brings out an unfamiliar side of Cruella and immerses herself as the fashionable villain you love to hate

"Cruella" was released Memorial Day weekend and was the first major studio in-theater premiere since COVID-19. “Cruella” features the talented and witty two Emma’s. Emma Stone plays Estella Miller, a criminal yet aspiring raw-talented fashion designer; Emma Thompson plays Baroness, London’s most famous fashion designer.
"Cruella" was released Memorial Day weekend and was the first major studio in-theater premiere since COVID-19. “Cruella” features the talented and witty two Emma’s. Emma Stone plays Estella Miller, a criminal yet aspiring raw-talented fashion designer; Emma Thompson plays Baroness, London’s most famous fashion designer.

“The Devil Wears Prada” meets “Joker” is the best way to describe Disney’s latest live-action film “Cruella.” 

The movie was released Memorial Day weekend and was the first major studio in-theater premiere since COVID-19. 

The new film is a prequel to the 1996 film “101 Dalmatians.” It is set in London during the 1970s, where punk rock was all the rage. The film even includes a rockin’ soundtrack, including “Call me Cruella” by Florence + the Machine, “She’s A Rainbow” by The Rolling Stones, “Stone Cold Crazy” by Queen and more. 

“Cruella” features the talented and witty two Emma’s. Emma Stone plays Estella Miller, a criminal yet aspiring raw-talented fashion designer; Emma Thompson plays Baroness, London’s most famous fashion designer. 

Stone took over for the role of Glenn Close from the original Cruella De Vil, but Close worked as an executive producer on this film.  

Directed by Craig Gillespie, who also directed the 2017 Oscar-awarded “I, Tonya,” the film is narrated by the main character of the movie, Stone. Its storytelling approach makes it a compelling watch. 

A rather enjoyable element, the film gave the backstory of Cruella’s rise to becoming the iconic Disney villainess. 

At the beginning of the movie, young Estella is introduced. She tries to control her dark side, which her mom calls Cruella. Young Estella, at the time, endures a heartbreaking loss in her life caused by three dalmatian dogs. This gives the audience an inside look as to why she holds such hatred towards them throughout the entirety of her life.

But she shows a more vulnerable side as you see she actually has a love for dogs. Her childhood puppy is her emotional support in the film, and they both grow up alongside each other. 

Embracing a more dark, grunge yet sophisticated style, “Cruella” is a movie for fashion fans.

As a fashion guru, it felt nostalgic watching the movie– almost like I was watching “A Devil Wears Prada” for the first time again. Estella tries to make a name for herself for the opening half of the film and impress Baroness, the biggest force in fashion. 

She designs the most extravagant, beautiful gowns, which even impress Baroness. 

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Awakening in the movie occurs when Estella realizes Baroness’ connection to her late mother. The execution of her revenge begins, and Estella decides to leave her former self in the past and embrace Cruella as her new, full-time identity.  

It was hard to avoid the subconscious similarities between this and the 2019 film “Joker” when watching “Cruella.” 

Both Arthur Fleck and Cruella make you feel something for the characters you shouldn’t feel anything for. Because of their connotation, you are made to dislike them, as they are the villains.  

Cruella and Arthur both went through terrible experiences in their adolescence until adulthood. They feel the loneliness of the lack of family and support, and all of a sudden, something snaps in them where they both become villains.  

In “Joker,” you are rooting for Arthur to not fully embrace the dark side role of being the Joker since tormenting and bullying is what made him reach that point.  In “Cruella,” the journey is the opposite. The audience anticipates seeing her embrace her dark side. 

The audience doesn’t see Cruella as the main antagonist in this film, rather Baroness. In fact, as the movie treads on, watchers grow to like Cruella’s endearing qualities she acquires, such as her wit and confidence. 

However, the movie approaches it from the perspective of Baroness being the main villain, not Cruella. You are cheering for her against Baroness for most of the movie. This is different from the 1996 version's character, where Cruella is displayed as a dog-killing monster.  

Emma Stone fully embraced her role as Cruella. Stone gave an exceptional performance, nailing the Disney icon’s mannerisms, posture and demeanor. No one else could have played this character as well as Stone. 

The film’s last scenes have a shocking twist, but everything makes sense when you see it for yourself. 

Despite some issues with the plot, Disney’s “Cruella” is a unique and surprisingly dark film in Disney’s collection of live-action series. 

This movie makes you care deeply about its main character, and if you’re a lover of fashion, punk rock and revenge, “Cruella” is the movie for you. 

Audiences feel the same as “Cruella” received a 97% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Following the massive box office success, a sequel to the film has been confirmed and is in the early works.

Rate: 8/10. 

Contact Alexis at acarson@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @Alexis_Carson99.

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