‘Cruella’ is the live-action reimagining of the classic Disney villain “Cruella DeVille”, now played by Emma Stone. This tells the origins of young ‘Estella’, who after a tragic accident is left to fend for herself in the streets of London as a child. Once an adult and after meeting two of her iconic henchmen Horace (Joel Fry) and Jasper (Paul Walter Houser, her eye is set on being the best clothing designer in town, working under the infamously difficult Baroness (Emma Thompson). Will Estella be able to rise to her potential of becoming the true Cruella is up for some serious debate for me in this Disney story that significantly waters down the villany of their main character.
This was something to an extent I was expecting, given that previous Disney villains that have been showcased in their own film, such as Maleficent, rebranded their villain as more of an anti-hero. This happens with Emma Stones portrayal of Cruella as she faces off against the film’s true villain in Emma Thompson. Anytime these two dynamite actresses are on screen interacting with each other the film is living up to its true potential and more. Both Emma’s were great in their respective roles.
Horace and Jasper are given a more friendly and nurturing twist, being the two who find Estella when she was young and drifting, conning, and stealing with each other to survive. There is potential for this to be a fun dynamic but other than a heist scene the interactions never seemed engaging to me.
The story and interpretation of Cruella are what bother me most. I can’t get into too many details on why I do not believe this interpretation of Cruella is the actual villain we all know from the cartoon and live-action interpretations. What I can say is she is severely handicapped in her true potential to be a villain because of the sometimes wrong, but always inherently good choices she makes. Her character arch sometimes parallels what Simba’s was in The Lion King, and though they attempt to shock you with a specific scene, it’s backtracked as quickly as Chewbaccas death in The Rise of Skywalker.
The story is complete nonsense. I literally laughed out loud during what was meant to be a shocking pivotal moment but was so accidentally hilarious I couldn’t help it. From there that was just the start of the wacky tone and soap opera reveals each act has in store.
The Costume and set design are brilliant, the music choices though mixed horribly throughout the movie were still catchy songs that anyone could enjoy. Both Emma’s are on their A-game interacting with each other, and though I would consider this “diet Cruella”, Stone’s performance had the potential to grow into the truly sinister character we all love.
Overall, ‘Cruella’ is a mixed bag for me. I love Emma Stone and Emma Thompson and still feel if you want to see this you should go regardless of my thoughts, but to me, the character has one defining trait to her that this film does not have the courage to deliver on.