Life & Culture

Film review:Cruella

This prequel to 101 Dalmations is a lot of fun, says Linda Marric


Emma Stone shines in this live action spin on the origin story of one of Disney’s most iconic animation vilenesses. Directed by Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, I Tonya),  Cruella also stars Emma Thompson, W1A’s Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser (I Tonya, Richard Jewell).

Set in London in the early 70s, Cruella follows the trials and tribulations of Estella De Vil (Stone) a strong-minded orphan who was brought up on the streets of London. Now all grown up, Estella scores her dream job - albeit with the help of fellow petty criminals and best friends Jasper and Horace (Fry and Hauser)  - at a swanky London department store. There, Estella catches the eye of revered fashion designer Baroness Von Hellman (Thompson) who offers her a job at her fashion house.

Realising that her new boss may not be all she seems, Estella disguises herself as her childhood alter ego Cruella - a monochrome haired villainess with a penchant for overacting - and plots against her. Things get slightly out of hand when Cruella, high on a new found notoriety, decides to kidnap the Baroness’s beloved Dalmatian dogs and threatens to make them into a fashion garment.

Gillespie and screenwriters Dana Fox and Tony McNamara present a fresh and wickedly anarchic production that is more than deserving of such an iconic character. Granted, at over two hours long, it remains to be seen if younger audiences will  take to this new incarnation as much as their parents did to the original.

Elevated by some brilliant performances courtesy of Stone and Thompson, Cruella also owes it success to a fantastically eclectic 60s soundtrack and to Fiona Crombie’s commendably eccentric production design. Elsewhere, Mark Strong gives a suitably sedate turn as John the Valet, while both Fry and Hauser are hugely likeable throughout.

Overall, this is a sharp and stylish production which is only slightly let down by a desire to be all things to all people. But if one is willing to put those things aside, there is ultimately a lot here to enjoy.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive