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Cruella Review: Disney Villain Origin Story is About Women Who Don't Conform

Emma Stone in Cruella (2021)

Emma Stone in Cruella (2021)

Emma Stone channels her inner gothic angst in the most chic way as the eponymous villain in Cruella.

Cruella

Director: Craig Gillespie

Cast: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Paul Walter Hauser, Joel Fry

Every Disney fan in this world hates Cruella DeVil. To think that a person would want to kill puppies to make a fur coat? Terrifying. Since the original 1961 animated feature 101 Dalmatians, Disney has released a live-action version of the film, as well as the Descendants series. However, none of them have attempted to humanise the character as much as the 2021 film Cruella.

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In the latest film by Gillespie, we see Estella, a genius albeit troubled child, who always makes a statement due to her unique hair. She wants to become a successful fashion designer but her dreams come to a screeching halt when she is expelled from school and her mother dies at a party of a mysterious friend, whom she had asked for financial help. Cruella, now an orphan, follows two little boys home and they grow up becoming seasoned thieves.

As an adult they are comfortable stealing expensive things, but she eventually gets a job at a designer studio to fulfill her dream. What follows next is a chance encounter, lots and lots of fabulous clothes and a positively unhinged Emma Stone as she transforms into the classic Disney villain.

One word to describe the film would be fun. From the get go, the writing is quite witty. Cruella’s character is written in a way that you find yourself rooting for her, but every now and then there will be something so jarring that you will question your own morals. Then there is the character of Baroness, played by Emma Thompson, who is Cruella’s adversary. The film is basically about the fight between bad and worse. It shows how even the people who are ‘born bad’ have a lot of humanity buried deep in them.

There’s a reason why the film generated so much buzz before its release. Emma Stone channels her inner gothic angst in the most chic way in this film. Her casting might have come as a surprise to some, but the film proves that if there is someone who is as good as Glenn Close, it is Stone.

Emma Thompson, on the other hand, almost upstages Stone in several moments. She brings her signature charm to the role, but in a terrifying way.

Cruella is like The Devil Wears Prada but only with murders, heists and betrayal. If you appreciate fashion, the film feels like a grand and elaborate party, almost resembling the ones in The Great Gatsby. It’s not just fun and games though. At the end it tries to make a point about women who don’t fit in, whose genius extends the boundaries of morality, of women who don’t conform.

Cruella is an out-and-out entertainer. It’s also a nice watch if you want to unlearn your notions of what a good woman should be.

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first published:August 28, 2021, 07:20 IST