Cruella’s Origin Story
By Nirupa Mohan Dore
The latest live-action adaptation from Disney, Cruella, released recently. The comedy driven crime drama serves as an origin story for the film’s title character, Cruella de Vil (played by Emma Stone), covering everything from her birth, to how she grew up, giving viewers a clear insight into her life. Set during the punk rock movement in 1970’s London, the feature film adaptation based on the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, marks the third film as part of the popular 101 Dalmatians franchise, and comes as a reboot, following 1996’s 101 Dalmatians and 2000’s 102 Dalmatians. Emma Stone takes centre stage as she delivers a noteworthy performance as Estella Miller, who doubles as Cruella.
In a story that follows her life as she loses her mother at a young age, and walks viewers through how she met Horace Badun, played by Paul Walter Hauser, and Jasper, played by Joel Fry, on the streets of London. The insightful and calmly paced origin story takes the time to give fans a clear view on what motivates Cruella and her passion for fashion. Cruella is portrayed in a fresh new light, as a more talented and humanized young woman, who dreams of one day becoming a fashion designer and preferably making a name for herself, but instead grows up surviving by pickpocketing, with her two equally mischievous friends, who become her only family.
The story by Kelly Marcel, Steve Zissis, and Aline Brosh McKenna, shows Cruella’s friends, Horace and Jasper realising her talent, and managing to get her the opportunity to work for the fashion legend, known as Baroness von Hellman, played by Emma Thompson. This is where the film suddenly takes a turn, with Estella, embracing the wicked side to herself, that had been waiting to come out for far too long. Bent on revenge, regret, and anger, she changes the course of her life, while creating drama and uproar along the way.
The film features a host of designer fashion, as Cruella makes a spectacle in the world of fashion. The costume design by Jenny Beavan is complimented with the music by Nicholas Britell, which goes hand in hand in providing viewers with quality entertainment. The film has many components and several plot twists along the way, as it stars Emily Beecham as Catherine Miller, Cruella’s mother, while Mark Strong plays John, the Baroness’ valet, Kirby Howell-Baptiste plays Maya, Cruella’s old school friend who is now a journalist, and John McCrea plays Artie, a friend in fashion, as each character adds their own onscreen personality to bring the story to life.
The 134-minute film by director Craig Gillespie, was made together with producers Marc E. Platt, Kristin Burr and Andrew Gunn, working in collaboration with production companies Walt Disney Pictures, Marc Platt Productions, Gunn Films, and TSG Entertainment. Made with a budget that is estimated to be between US $100-200 million, Cruella managed to rake in 223.6 million at the worldwide boxoffice, easily becoming the “eighth highest-grossing film of 2021.” The film received mixed reviews, supported by ratings of 74 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, 59 per cent on Metacritic and 7.4/10 on IMDb, with many praising the visual style, costume design, soundtrack and most importantly the performance by the film’s lead cast.
Those who enjoyed the film can look forward to seeing Emma Stone reprising her role, in the upcoming sequel that is already in development. The PG rated movie is one that many will appreciate for its detailed storytelling style and direction, which gives the audience a chance to truly understand what drives the character, while delivering a purely entertaining and engaging story. With Cruella’s life’s journey taking viewers on a rollercoaster of emotions.