Film Review – Cruella

Cruella (M)

Directed by: Craig Gillespie

Starring: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Mark Strong

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

Emma Stone dons a British accent and glamorous outfits in this sumptuous live action Cruella de Vil origin story that doesn’t forget nuance among the spectacle.

When her mother is killed by the paws of three dalmatian guard dogs at a cliff-side mansion, feisty young creative with a dark streak Estella (Tipper Seifert-Cleveland) is orphaned and resorts to living on the streets of London.

She is taken in by fellow street wise orphans Jasper (Ziggy Gardner) and Horace (Joseph MacDonald) and throughout the years perfect their pick-pocketing plots as a team.

As young adults, Estella (Emma Stone) has dreams of a career in fashion and gets a job working for renowned haute couture designer The Baroness (Emma Thompson), but working for this contemptuous boss from hell prompts Estella’s alter-ego Cruella to surface.

Cruella is less about dogs and more about fashion, duality, loyalty, harmful secrets and identity – in fact, there is a lot going on in this 134 minute film. Not only is it interested in subtext, but it is a showcase for some of the most creative and stylish choices we are likely to see on screen this year. The production design is often jaw-dropping.

The outfits are dazzling, with a couple of costume reveals that elicited an audible gasp from me, the soundtrack is wall to wall classic bops and zippy editing that, for the most part, gives this a fun pace.

Pairing the two Emmas was casting genius, with both of them at the top of their giddy game making it hard to guess which is having the most fun disappearing into their devilish characters. And the moments where they go head-to-head as the rivalry intensifies is delightful to watch unfold.

There are some obvious parallels to The Devil Wears Prada, even down to the icy boss’ bald right hand man John (Mark Strong), and the length is not justified (is there a word for when you are enjoying something so much but at the same time wish it will end soon?) but Cruella is a case of so much joyfully wicked energy being channeled into something that this delicious concoction is hard to hate.

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