Cruella: Don’t worry, there’s lots more bad things coming

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Did you ever wonder how Cruella De Vil, the vampy fiend from Disney’s “101 Dalmatians,” became evil enough to want to kill puppies and skin them for fur coats? You didn’t? Ah, well—there’s a movie about it, “Cruella.”

Cruella is a 2021 American crime comedy film based on the character Cruella de Vil from The Hundred and One Dalmatians.Set in London during the punk rock movement of the 1970s, the film revolves around Estella Miller, an aspiring fashion designer. She she explores the path that will lead her to become a notorious up and coming fashion designer known as Cruella de Vil.

How it all started?

Cruella opens with a childhood tragedy – one which sends another young girl down the path of evil – before segueing to an adulthood brought spectacularly to life by a star on form. Mercifully, this is a far more interesting feature than the former. It’s too long, and occasionally languorous by consequence, but a hoot nonetheless. No puppies are harmed but the soundtrack is a killer.

Estella winds up on the streets of London and in the company of street urchins Jasper and Horace . They’re the pair who will one day serve as Cruella’s henchmen. Here, they grow into a gangly Joel Fry and rib tickling Paul Walter Hauser. Were it not for the late arrival of Emma Thompson, Stone would own Cruella without a rival. Thompson plays the stupendously vile Baroness von Hellman, a vain narcissist and the bees knees of contemporary London fashion. But, a movie about an outright villain probably wouldn’t do these days. By the end of the film, it’s impossible to track, or imagine, how this Cruella becomes the future Cruella.

What you need to know

“Cruella” is mostly a two-hander between actresses, although Hauser provides plenty of physical comedy . ”Yes, Disney die-hards may blanch at the thought of a non-smoking. But if Batman can be Adam West dancing the Batusi and Christian Bale having an existential crisis. There can’t be more than one version of this dog-obsessed diva?

It’s a bummer, because—like many a “How did this person become the character we already know?” films—”Cruella” is filled with situations, set pieces, and moments of characterization. The performance suggests it had everything required to stand on its own two high-heeled feet, owned by the largest entertainment conglomerate the world has ever seen. 

Doesn’t it look fabulous!

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