As a child growing up watching Disney’s animated feature 101 Dalmation I was partially scared of Cruella De Vil and partially loathed her. Of late there has been a couple of Disney villainesses which they have given a softer side or at least context as to why they became so evil. First was Maleficent and now Cruella. Who doesn’t like a little context? This is a rather dark origin story that will still have you quietly (or not so) rooting for the bad girl.
As a child Estella’s (Tipper Seifert-Cleveland – appeared in episodes of Call the Midwife and Game of Thrones) whole world was her mom (Emily Beecham – Hail, Caesar!, 28 Weeks Later) and the dream of becoming a fashion designer. When her mom is brutally taken from her all the now orphan has left is her dream of fashion.
While on the run from the authorities as she believes that she is to blame for her mother’s tragic death, Estella is taken in by two other orphans, Jasper and Horace. They live together in an abandoned building and eke out an existence becoming adept at robbing things.
About a decade later, on one of her birthdays, Jasper (Joel Fry – Yesterday, Paddington 2) gets Estella (Emma Stone – La La Land, The Help) a job at her favourite high end department store. Though the job is just cleaning, Estella hopes to work her way up. That does not seem like it is going to be possible as her boss is a snob thinking her not up to snuff. In an act which gets her fired but then hired, it seems like life is going to change for our favourite redhead…black and white head. The job is at the fashion house run by the very respected (and feared) The Baroness (Emma Thompson – Love, Actually, The Remains of the Day).
After some time on the job, Estella discovers two things – The Baroness is a vile woman and she has in her possession the necklace her mother gave to Estella on the day she died. Of course, she is going to try to get it back and wonders how The Baroness could have it. What she finds out is going to change Estella back into her childhood alter ego – Cruella.
While purists might not like the direction that Craig Gillespie’s (I, Tonya, Lars and the Real Girl) film takes, if you want a modern twist on the Disney 101 Dalmation’s villain Cruella then settle in for a touch over two hours of her origin story. Yes, things have been changed or tweaked from the original animated film. That is to be expected, no?
The two female leads here are great. The two Emmas. Two actresses of different generations who are each worth the price of admission in most films they star in. Emma Thompson chews up every bit of scenery she can get her acting chompers on in her over-the-top evil The Baroness. Her take on the character will remind some of the Meryl Streep turn in The Devil Wears Prada with more emphasis on the sociopathic side. Think of that type of character with even more outrageous fashion. Emma Stone has the tougher job of bringing to life two characters. One demure but highly intelligent and the other equally bright but hell bent on revenge.
Visually the film is a treat for your eyes. Between the filled to the brim sets, there are the wigs and costumes. Of all shapes, lengths and colours. At certain points, you won’t know where to put your eyes for the fear of missing something splendid.
A great prequel which is certainly not appropriate for kids. Just too dark for the little ones. But aimed at adults who can revisit a villain from their childhood and see her through new lenses.
Disney shows that time has not passed it or its stories by. They can tell tales as old as time in a modern way.
-Deleted Scenes: Baroness Rejects Design Sketches
-Deleted Scenes: Hotel Heist Hallway
-New Dogs + Old Tricks
-The Sidekick Angle
-The Two Emmas
-The World of Cruella