An imaginative retelling of a classic story with just enough twist and revelation to add authenticity to an origin telling. Cruella is a tonic served with dark humor and outrageous fashion against a backdrop of seventies punk rock and revolution. If you go into it with the right expectations, then this film is bloody brilliant. It really delivers what it promises to be; wildly entertaining.
THE STORY AND CHARACTERS
The film is set in the 1970s. You first get introduced to Estella, a young girl who tries to be good. Like all children, she is not perfect. However, Estella tries to please her single mother. After her tragic death, she soon meets Horace and Jasper. They form a friendship, turned family and this is where the story truly begins. The acting was great. The dynamic between Emma Stone and Emma Thompson (The Baroness) is amazing. Both Estella and The Baroness are hard-working and talented in the fashion field but you would want to stay on the good side of these two ladies. The Baroness is Estella’s cut-throat boss later turned nemesis. How this rivalry evolves is the heart of this movie. You can only have a strong protagonist if there is a strong antagonist and what a phenomenal performance was given by Emma Thompson. There are many scenes where she just slays it. For me, she was too powerful for Emma Stone in many scenes, and for this, I want to give credit to the scriptwriters because they made sure that she notices everything and everyone in her office. She knows the talent, she knows the competition, and she knows her way of winning. Although, you don’t get this in the climax.
I just think ending is what ruined the magic a little bit. It seemed very predictable in some parts. The acting of course is great, but it for sure relied on the A-list cast to carry the film. The Baroness’s character is built up so well to be this smart and clever lady but even if you expect her to foil Cruella’s final plan, it doesn’t happen. She just falls for it. This also takes away the chance for the hero (or anti-hero) to improvise and show us a plan B which the audience never anticipated but that never happens. I just think that’s cheap writing.
But obviously the biggest fault of the film is that it never found its true tone. There are moments where you will think that it actually is a dark adaptation but there are also moments which makes it look nothing more than any other Disney adaptation. Of course, I didn’t mind the comedy aspects of it but rather the dark and deep aspects of it. I don’t think this film ever delved in a deeper level to make us fully feel what it is trying to say.
The costuming has to win some awards. It was truly a work of art. As a guy who knows basically nothing about fashion, it made me wish I did because I felt like I would have appreciated it more. It was truly impressive. The score was a downer, though. That’s because it was never given the chance to establish its identity. The film saturated its score with 70s songs and never gave its own music a chance. Songs are good for musicals but not for films like these. Of course, a few of them fit well but the film over relied on it. The Production Design is amazing as it fully captures the 70s feel. The Cinematography is a little disappointing as you never feel a good scene in a good frame for long but the runtime was already long so we can understand the decision.
Cruella has been given a sympathetic origin story to go with her wicked persona. And much like The Joker, you do feel for her, not fully but enough. In this age of personified evil and excuses for everything that made them that way, we can honestly feel for her. Not to say any of her horrendous acts of crime and revenge are okay, but her actions or reactions were justified by her childhood trauma. Disney, like everything in the world, changes, adapts and builds upon old ideas. They still have a long way to go in making mature movies but it’s a good start.
K- Score: 80%
STW: 24/30, D: 20/25, C: 5/8, E: 4/5, PVD: 12/12, A: 10/10, S: 5/10