Disney’s ‘Cruella’ Review: A Punk Rock Fashion Dream

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Cruella is a wicked look into an iconic character that has a passion for fashion and will stop at nothing to be the leading lady. It brings together high fashion and the British punk fashion era that rocked the fashion scene. Each of Cruella’s costumes was an iconic statement to her predecessor.

Much like Maleficent is a retelling of the origins of a beloved Disney villain, Emma Stone embodies Cruella de Vil in this origin story of the mad seamstress in ’70s London. The story gives us an early look into Estella’s childhood, including when she met Horace and Jasper and how she rose to fame. When it comes to live-action stories, the prequels of Disney villains are a genre that I can enjoy. Are people truly born bad? Cruella gives viewers a chance to learn about her past and empathize with her character.

Emma Stone as Cruella in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Putting two Oscar-winning powerhouse females together like Emma Stone and Emma Thompson was a perfect choice. The way they command the screen and the tension between their characters offers tremendous character development. The Baroness (Emma Thompson) is much like the Cruella de Vil we see in the Glenn Close live-action 101 Dalmations. She commands the room with her presence and has no problems stepping on everyone around her to get what she wants. She is every reason Estella becomes Cruella and her path to madness.

(L-R): Mark Strong as John the Valet and Emma Thompson as the Baroness in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“I met with the folks at Disney,” Emma Stone says. “They were playing around with the idea of an origin story of Cruella de Vil and wanted to know if I would be interested. There was a lot to figure out and to see if it made sense to tell a story about her. But the character’s so much fun and so intoxicating, they had an interest in finding what that story could be.”

(L-R): Paul Walter Hauser as Horace, Emma Stone as Cruella, and Joel Fry as Jasper in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved.

If the Baroness is Estella’s undoing, the other characters in the story are there to keep her empathetic and level-headed (to a degree). Along with Horace and Jasper, whom we know from the original story, the addition of John McCrea, who plays Arte, the owner of a vintage Portobello Road clothing store who comes into Estella’s life at a vital moment and transforms her into an icon. McCrea’s role is a big step in Disney films because it showcases a queer character in such an iconic way. Arte is one of my favorite characters in the film because he is a character that hypes Estella up in a way that Horace and Jasper cannot.

John McCrae as Artie in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Two-time Academy Award®–winning costume designer Jenny Beavan brought some iconic pieces together for the film. She did an amazing job setting the two Emma’s characters apart based on their costumes. 

“This is the biggest thing I’ve ever done,” Beavan says. “The amount of looks for Emma Stone is more than I’ve ever done. She had a total of 47 costume changes, and Emma Thompson had a total of 33. Even Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser each had 30 costumes.”

Cruella is a not to be missed story of our favorite black and white-haired villain. You don’t want to miss where Cruella’s affinity of dalmatian spots starts and where her humanity treads a thin line, but the costumes alone will have you cackling in glee.

Emma Stone as Cruella in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Academy Award® winner Emma Stone (“La La Land”) stars in Disney’s “Cruella,” an all-new live-action feature film about the rebellious early days of one of cinemas most notorious – and notoriously fashionable – villains, the legendary Cruella de Vil. “Cruella,” which is set in 1970s London amidst the punk rock revolution, follows a young grifter named Estella, a clever and creative girl determined to make a name for herself with her designs. She befriends a pair of young thieves who appreciate her appetite for mischief, and together they are able to build a life for themselves on the London streets. One day, Estella’s flair for fashion catches the eye of the Baroness von Hellman, a fashion legend who is devastatingly chic and terrifyingly haute, played by two-time Oscar® winner Emma Thompson (“Howards End,” “Sense & Sensibility”). But their relationship sets in motion a course of events and revelations that will cause Estella to embrace her wicked side and become the raucous, fashionable and revenge-bent Cruella.

Cruella will release simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access for a one-time additional fee on Friday, May 28.

A Punk Rock Fashion Dream

Meghan Cooper [JaMonkey]

Disney’s Cruella

Summary

Cruella is a wicked look into an iconic character that has a passion for fashion and will stop at nothing to be the leading lady. It brings together high fashion and the British punk fashion era that rocked the fashion scene. Each of Cruella’s costumes was an iconic statement to her predecessor.

5

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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle.

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