After the bang average ‘Maleficent‘ movies I wasn’t in a hurry to see another Disney villainess get the origin story treatment.
But the infectiously delightful and anarchic ‘Cruella‘ – set during London’s 70s punk era – is a really pleasant surprise.
‘I, Tonya’s‘ Craig Gillespie was a perfect choice to direct and his latest flick is bristling with energy; his hyperactive camera work spins, pans and swoops throughout, newspaper headlines leap off the screen, and the predominately black and white palette gets perfectly punctuated with colour.
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The latter is helped no end by lavish costumes – each one looking like it cost a fortune – and the musical drops hit all the right notes.
Emma Stone nails the titular anti-heroine. Her accent works, her expressive eyes are a character of their own and she has a ball playing two sides of a split personality that aren’t far removed from each other.
Tipper Seifert-Cleveland is great as the younger Cruella too, Emma Thompson’s nasty Baroness makes Meryl Streep’s ‘Devil Wears Prada‘ fashionista seem like a pussycat and Joel Fry (Jasper ) and Paul Walter Hauser’s (Horace) sidekicks are a lot of fun.
The movie’s lively spirit is best summed up by a breathless bungled ball heist and an unruly impromptu fashion show in Regent’s Park with a cover of The Stooges’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog‘ soaring on the soundtrack.
Cruella is given a good reason to hate Dalmatians and there are a few effective plot twists that keep the story ticking along.
Truthfully, the film could be snappier. Cutting one or two montages, or – as entertaining as they are – a couple of the tête-à-têtes between Stone and Thompson would’ve made for a tighter edit, suiting the fervent feel created by Gillespie.
But, as Cruella herself expertly puts it, “people need a villain to believe in,” and comfortably sitting a few notches above ‘Maleficent‘ and its sequel, this is a live-action Disney origin tale worthy of the studio’s iconic name.
● What are your thoughts on ‘Cruella?’ Does it take the lead over the character’s previous movie incarnations?
Pop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will pass on your comments – and any movie or TV show recommendations you have – to your fellow readers.
● ‘Cruella’ is available on Sky Store, and screening in cinemas, now.
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