Cruella manages to distinguish itself from the rest of Disney’s live-action adaptations thanks to stylish direction, jaw-dropping costume design, Oscar calibur acting from its leading ladies and a script that achieves success in transforming its well-known evil antagonist into an anti-hero you admire. Cruella is a pleasant surprise that will have you begging for a sequel.

You know her as the evil villain from 101 Dalmatians, hellbent on capturing those dogs and turning them into a fur coat. But, we never really got her backstory. Cruella explores the rise of Cruella De Vil and how she became the fabulous Disney villain we love to hate today.

I vaguely remember watching the original 101 Dalmatians when I was younger and I never had any desire to watch it again because I just didn’t connect with it. I gave the franchise another live-action adaptation and the only thing I remember is that Glenn Close and Jeff Daniels were in it and I liked it less than the original. Having said that, Cruella was never on my list of most anticipated films to see in 2021. However, my initial impression changed after I watched a short trailer that briefly showcased Emma Stone as the main character. This got me to at least give the film a chance. As soon as the final credits started rolling, I am proud to say that Cruella took me by surprise and exceeded my expectations. 

Emma vs Emma

Emma Stone is sensational as Cruella De Vil. You can tell she is having a blast playing the famous Disney villain and every time she is on screen, she is captivating to say the very least. She manages to make me experience very confused emotions for Cruella. I found myself rooting for her for the majority of the film, but there were times when she made my blood boil because her sinister side started creeping in. Having made me ride a rollercoaster of emotions, Emma Stone was born to play Cruella. She isn’t the only Emma that had me gushing with excitement thanks to their performance. Emma Thompson as fashion designer/icon The Baroness is simply wonderful. She is devilishly evil, which really reminded me of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. She is very hard to like, but despite all of that, Emma Thompson brings an edge to the character that only she can do and pulls it off with flying colours. Watching both women acting together is the collaboration I didn’t know I needed, but now that I have it, I can’t live without it. 

Also, Cruella is directed by long time collaborator Graig Gillespie, who is best known for directing I.Tonya. He brings that same flair to this movie, while achieving a darker tone that feels right for our anti-hero. Giving it a very unique style that properly showcases the stellar look of this film. The directing along with the sharp writing are clearly inspired by The Devil Wears Prada, Oceans 11, and Joker. This results in a more family-friendly version of those movies that people of all ages can enjoy. It never felt like a copy and was more of a love letter to those films mentioned because they all had engaging characters. Cruella has a more serious tone, with only bits of humour sprinkled throughout. The filmmakers clearly wanted Cruella to achieve an identity of being Disney’s edgiest movie to date that flatters every quirk and vile intention of Miss De Vil. Thankfully, the film has some hilarious moments that provided some exceptional belly laughs for me. Sacrificing humour in favour of drama is a risk that pays off beautifully and maintains Cruella’s bad-ass image. These elements make it stand on its own and not feel like any other Disney adaptation. You could tell that the director, along with the film’s writers, received very little studio pushback and were given the opportunity to do exactly what they intended. I hope to see more of this from the house of mouse. 

Overbearing soundtrack

I admit that I really liked the music from Cruella. It featured Queen, Nona Simone, Supertramp, Blondie and the Bee Gees to name a few. However, despite the affection that I have for these artists, I found their presence overbearing. The music almost took me out of the movie completely. The songs suited the movie’s era very well, but when it came to the vibe of the scene, some worked and some felt out of place, The music I ended up appreciating the most was the score by Nicholas Britell. It befitted our main anti-hero and sadly, there wasn’t enough of it. 

Oscar worthy costume and makeup

I feel bad for every other film being released this year that has to compete with Cruella’s incredibly inspired, unique, and flawless costumes and makeup. We are presented with a glamorous punk-rock aesthetic that made my jaw drop more times than I expected. That being said, this is the best work Jenny Beaven has ever done and she deserves a standing ovation. 

Disney usually plays it safe and sticks to formulas it knows, which leaves the element of surprise to be desired. However, Cruella manages to keep me on my toes and even leaves me dumbfounded by some clever twists that took place, which I really didn’t see coming. All 3 seasoned writers Dana Fox, Tony McNamara, and Aline Brosh McKenna deserve praise for establishing clear character motivations, which doesn’t make any of the events that occur feel out of place. Having multiple writers on a film could get messy because ideas could clash. In this case, everything flowed and this improved the quality of the movie immensely. Cruella embraces its dark themes and presents us with a unique take on Cruella De Vil that earns its place amongst the best that Disney’s ever done. Last but not least, Its gorgeous costumes and make-up pair beautifully with the fantastic acting and engaging story that is more interesting than it has any right to be. Here’s hoping this remains a trend going forward with their other live-action movies.   

Chill and Watch

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