Have you ever felt that you had a special gift, and talent that nobody noticed or respected? Then you will understand the story of the young Estella, who, played by the unique Emma Stone, transforms in the latest Disney adventure into the cheeky and mighty Cruella.
THE DARK STORY
Set in 1970’s London, the story follows Estella who is an aspiring fashion designer. After the tragic loss of her mother, Estella has to learn how to survive on her own. She does so with only a couple of loyal friends (and dogs) by her side. She works her way to the top, impressing one of the biggest names in the fashion industry, the Baroness, with her natural talent and artistic flair.
As her surname’s pun already suggests, Cruella is cunning, scheming and egocentric. But in a way that neither her friends nor we viewers can really be angry with her. So, we follow Cruella’s plan to expose the Baroness for what she really is. And, she is a titan in the fashion world of her own accord. However, will Cruella come out on top? Or will she lose her sense of moral goodness and become another victim of the Baroness?
The Stunning Costumes of Cruella
It goes without saying that the costumes were out of this world. As a film about the fashion industry, iconic outfits were to be expected. But costume designer Jenny Beavan did not hold back.
In a press conference about the film, Beaven claimed ‘I’m not a fashion designer, I’m a storyteller with clothes’, and this is certainly true in Cruella.
Beaven uses a blend of 70’s punk inspiration, with the modern influence of reusing and upcycling fabric. Her homage to reusing old fabrics is seen most clearly in Cruella’s ‘trash’ dress.
Cruella upstaged the Baroness by turning up on a garbage truck in a dress made from old materials and pre-loved clothing to create something new, fresh, and iconic. This recycled dress was also an homage to Cruella’s thieving childhood. The time, when she had to learn to make do with what she could get her hands on.
The use of recycled materials is inspiring to see within such a huge movie. Not only does the film convey messages about identity, but it also takes a stance on environmental matters and protecting our beautiful earth.
THE OUTSTANDING CAST
Emma Stone and Emma Thompson are a delight to watch as always.
On the one side, Emma Stone’s characterization of Cruella is breathtaking. She seamlessly portrays both Estella and her alter ego Cruella. Stone clearly had a lot of fun exploring this complex character, and her energy and enthusiasm help Cruella become such a likable and relatable character.
On the other side, Emma Thompson shows, that aging can be something good. Besides Emma Stone, we met the British actress at the Cruella press conference. Thereby, we were overwhelmed because of Thompson’s shining appearance and typically British sense of humor.
When asked whether it was difficult for her to play such a villain, she replied incredibly charming and with a wink:
“Ask my husband. There was no acting required.”
Howsoever, of course, she acted convincingly as usual. So, she demonstrates her ability to play a wicked character. Even if it’s a dramatic change from her lovely and caring persona.
Another highlight is Tipper Seifert-Cleveland. She plays young Estella in such a lovely way.
With her energy, passion, cheekiness, and that certain spark in her eye, she opens our heats instantly. Hence, it’s exciting to see her fresh talent. Tipper certainly has a long career ahead of her.
The Delightful Dogs
Although the story is about Cruella de Vil, dogs (especially dalmatians) still play a crucial role. The director, Craig Gillespie, wanted to include the animals in a way that supported the actors without overpowering the story.
Gillespie pulled this off brilliantly, and the dogs help explore the themes of loyalty and friendship, but also of distrust and skepticism. They also provide much-needed comic relief and, of course, a lot of cuteness. Have you ever seen a dog dressed as a rat? Well, after watching this film you will have, and you might be shocked at just how cute a rat-dog is…
THE CATCHY SOUNDTRACK
The score always plays an important role. Lately, since the Guardians of the Galaxy, the 60’ to 80’s hits experience a revival. Cruella goes one better and opens a real firework of mega hits. From Supertramp’s “Bloody Well Right”, over the Bee Gees, the Doors to Queen, The Clash, and Blondie. Of course, David Bowie’s “Fashion” will also not be missed.
So you may suddenly notice that you are no longer watching the film from your armchair, but are dancing in your room.
The Cruella Verdict
As always, Disney has managed to pull on heartstrings. Cruella takes us on an exploration of loyalty and faith, hard work, talent, and of course, fashion.
The costumes, soundtrack, and of course, the spectacular acting, all come together to teach us lessons about ourselves and the relationship between good and evil.
Disney’s villains are legendary. But in this new adventure, we see a unique side of one of Disney’s most notorious wicked characters. No one is completely good or bad. And nothing is just black or white. We all have both colors residing within us. And this duality is explored in the captivating Cruella.
After this long year without cinema, Cruella provides some much-needed entertainment, incredible style, and wicked fun. Moreover, Cruella shows us that to have a great talent is good, but to believe in yourself and be unique is even better.
Cruella hits theatres and Disney+ Premier Access on May 28th. VALEUR gives 8 points to that fantastic ode to the punk and fashion scene.
Text: Amy May Ellis and Marco Kokkot
Pictures & Videos: © 2021 Disney Enterprises Inc. All Rights Reserved.