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Film Review: “Cruella” (2021)


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Disney’s “Cruella” is one of those adaptations you will either like or won’t. At least, that was the expectation after seeing its trailer. However, seeing it shocked me astoundingly to the level where I found myself rewatching it for so many justified reasons. Disney has stepped up and created an instant classic which, trust me, once you see it, the only thing you will say is ‘Woah.’

The film revolves around the titular character, Cruella (Emma Stone), rather, Estella, before she turns into an obsessed cloth designer. Despite a troubled childhood, the loss of her mother and becoming an orphan, Estella gets closer to achieving her dream. But her plans are under threat as a manipulative, bossy and truly ugly Baroness (Emma Thompson), wants to catch and eliminate the new threat in the face of Cruella, who as a fashion designer is more creative than her.

Based on the character Cruella de Vil from Dodie Smith’s 1956 novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, it is by far Disney’s best live-action adaption with which you will be stunned and surprised at the same time. As for the plot, the film starts with the birth of Estella with hair half white and half black. Raised by her loving mother, Catherine, Estella already realizes she is different. Her rebellious nature made her notorious in her school, forcing her mom to take the girl out of the city to pay a visit to the Baroness. However, it’s the last day when Estella sees her mother alive, as soon after, she witnesses how the Baroness’ Dalmatians pushed her off the cliff to death.

Running for her life, Estella meets two street urchins, Jasper and Horace, who she befriends. Ten years later, with the same friends, they have developed a creative way of stealing money from people, so graciously and beautiful, you won’t feel bad about it at all. On her birthday, her friends made her a gift, a job at a place that will change her life forever. The place that will give her an opportunity to turn into an iconic character, yet the most creative and gifted fashion designer known as Cruella.

From director Craig Gillespie, “Cruella” has three of the big stars in Emma Stone, Emma Thompson and costume designer, Jenny Beavan. While there is no surprise in Stone and Thompson’s ability to portray villains in a brilliant way, it’s Jenny Beavan who will make the headlines. From start to end, the costumes you will be seeing are iconic, mesmerizing, colorful and superbly stylish. It’s refreshing to see how well colors were used in the film by delivering the true nature of the storyline. Whether it’s the production design or the winning soundtrack, everything about “Cruella”, believe it or not, is a masterpiece.

As for the performances, I must admit, Emma Stone was born to play Cruella. In this universe or in any other, only Stone could give life to such an exotic character, which you will find yourself admiring a lot. Every scene Emma Thompson appears in is owned completely, like a true artist. But when Emma Stone enters the room, you will be suddenly watching a masterclass of two great actors that shockingly do not overact. None of them is in the film to prove who is a better actor. And that’s the beauty of having two Emmas in one film. They show what real actors should do once the camera begins to roll.

That said, “Cruella” is a beautiful piece of art that is worthwhile watching as many times as your heart desire. Memorable lines are so hilarious, you may begin stealing them. Why not, you may ask if they are that good? And they are for real. As for the film, it has everything to not disappoint you – dalmatians, two cute dogs, stellar cast, smart direction, writing, production design, soundtrack, costumes, performances and a very entertaining storyline. It’s a great combination of everything to make your day eventful, exciting and joyful.

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