Film Review – Cruella (2021)

Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil in Disney's Cruella

Title – Cruella (2021)

Director – Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl)

Cast – Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Mark Strong, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser

Plot – The origin story of Cruella de Vil (Stone) as she grows up abandoned in a world of petty crime that leads to her employment under the eye of cold-hearted fashion icon The Baroness (Thompson).

“I’m just getting started, darling”

Review by Eddie on 04/06/2021

While I’m not convinced the world was crying out for an origin story of one of Disney’s most iconic villains Cruella de Vil, Disney in all their might and wisdom decided we do and after all, the world conquering house of the mouse appears to be on a hot streak of late so who am I disagree with their decision?

Going for the Covid-19 impacted hybrid release that see’s this high profile film available to rent at home for a premium price or showing in cinemas for those willing to plunge into the outside world once more, Cruella finds its way in viewing lounges and cinema complexes around the world in what is an experience that can only be described as a Joker-lite attempt at providing context to a dog killing fashionista and how she came to be.

Directed by indie-darling Craig Gillespie, who’s last high profile affair was the darkly comedic I, Tonya (of which this film also feels related too in tone and style), Cruella is a devious mix of of black comedy, straight up drama and crime caper as Emma Stone’s Estella/Cruella begins to uncover truths about her troubled past that has lead to a life of crime and potential salvation/damnation under the employment of Emma Thompson’s cold-hearted socialite and fashion icon The Baroness.

It’s a fairly light story, there’s not a lot of meat on the bones of this particular offering and Gillespie’s incessant use of almost every famous song you can recall hearing and inventive camera movements and editing can only take the film so far, with a real feeling throughout that there’s no real point too any of this other than Disney going for easy wins, even if the work of Stone and Thompson showcases two talented performers that appear too be having more fun than we do with the material at hand.

Taking a back seat to her career since her Oscar moment with La La Land in 2016/17, Stone has lost none of her energetic charm and sassy smarts in the years she’s been more dormant than you’ve come to expect and her Arthur Fleck like Cruella makes for an intriguing central character even if overall she’s relatively by the numbers when it comes to villains with purpose while Thompson goes for full scene chewing as the detestable Baroness who appears to not have a single redeeming feature in her being.

At a smidgen over two hours, Cruella outstays its welcome by a good 30 or so minutes as the story of Cruella’s quest for vengeance on past wrongdoings and determination to make her mark on the world gets bogged down in some rather repetitive and not overly exciting set pieces and while the films strong production values (that call to mind a late 80’s early 90’s Tim Burton film), committed performances and stunning costume designs provide eye candy and superficial joys, Cruella can’t make its mark where it counts and becomes an exercise in nothingness with the 101 Dalmatian franchise and the lore around Cruella herself not feeling like they gained much from this particular escapade.

Final Say – 

Well made and featuring a scattering of inventive and memorable moments, Cruella is arguably more enjoyable than it had a right to be but as a whole its still a forgettable and unnecessary addition to the Disney cannon of beloved staples.

2 1/2 street concerts out of 5 

24 responses to “Film Review – Cruella (2021)

  1. Great review, like the tone and comments good work- these Disney retreads are arguably unnecessary but there are many millions of reasons they are made (all with the Queens head on)

  2. I never understood why we needed a movie like this. Weren’t TWO live action 101 Dalmatians movies enough? I didn’t even know the guy for Lars and the Real Girl directed this. WOW!

  3. Melbourne’s latest lockdown has me at a disadvantage. Just when I got comfortable in my Readings recliner I’ve found myself instead looking for coins between the cracks of my sofa. Sucks! My Mrs. wants to see this one. I want to see how Emma Stone continues to evolve as an actress here. Hope I’m back at the movies next week.

    • I feel for you mate, I am also in Victoria but more regional based so we can head back to the cinema at 25% capacity. Think I will check out the Conjuring this weekend! Nothing beats the cinema experience.

  4. I am somewhat curious to watch it given how its tone seems to be quite different from what Disney usually goes for.

  5. From your review, I feel like the movie is what I would expect it to be. I still want to see it but I wouldn’t go out of my way to spend extra money to see this, especially based on your review.

  6. It’s interesting I have really disliked all of the Disney re-makes I’ve seen so far, but this one I loved. I think it was how over-the-top it was, it felt…larger than life in a way that other Disney remakes haven’t. Also I think that even if you strip everything else away (the costumes, music, etc.) you’d still have a really well developed story about a person – Cruella – piecing together who she is and who she will be, from a rather strange and motley assortment of tragic events, and outrageous people.

    • I like some aspects of this film but really didn’t connect with it in any meaningful way and wasn’t convinced this origin story really added that much to the Dalmations series over all. Be interesting to see where they take it next.

      • Fair enough! I’m curious what you think though about whether or not it’s actually a prequel. Because I took the movie not as a prequel to the Dalmation series but rather it’s own spin-off / alternate reality – that said I think there was a lot of ambiguity there as well. Because I would agree I don’t think it really makes sense as an origin story for Cruella if it’s meant to be a prequel to 101 Dalmations.

      • Good point, in many ways it’s not really too much of prequel. Be interesting to see where they take the next film, was announced so quickly following this one!

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