Cruella Review: Starring Emma Stone The Latest Disney Offering Is An Enjoyable Kitsch

·3-min read

Cruella is one of those potboilers in which the lot boils over with kitschy action and overblown drama. Characters trip and fall over from steep mountain tops, cruel evil characters plot and plan to ruin the good god-loving clan, precious necklaces and other knickknacks are stolen by kindhearted thieves and restored to their rightful owners. Barbara Cartland meets Charles Dickens. They dance together while we smile. Somewhere amid the din and tempest stand the two Emmas, Thompson and Stone, oozing poison and precocity, as though the concept of Evil & Good had just been narrowed down to being shouldered by the two actresses. Indeed Emma Thompson as the hideously evil dress designer who at first is revealed as Estella (Emma Stone) mother’s killer and eventually as Estella’s real mother, is a whammy. Emma Stone as the double-faced daughter in disguise is an epic presence.

The chaos of a kitschy concoction never overpowers the director’s taste for ground-level entertainment. He dishes out the corny twists and turns with an admirable solemnity and sobriety…well, maybe not sobriety since Ms Stone’s Estella/Cruella is drunk a lot of times. When drunk the young heroine aspiring to be a top-notch fashion designer is delightfully droll. Emma Stone has so much fun with her dual role that it’s contagious, I found myself giggling laughing and clapping at her goofy sometimes rousing sometimes idiotic antics. Her two accomplices, orphans and street children just like her, are a riot. Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) are Dickensian in their dedication to being generous and kind to Estella who is no Orphan Annie. And this is no Oliver Twist.

Let’s be blunt. Estella can be quite a bitch, especially when transforming into Cruella. With her blond-black hair, crimson lipstick and kohl-laden eyes, Emma Stone look like something the cat dragged in on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Ms Stone has a whole lot of fun being cookie and means, sometimes together. The formidable Emma Thompson’s Baroness Hellman who is to clothes designing what Osama Bin Laden was to bomb manufacturing, seems more like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada than Glenn Close in 100 Dalmatians (the latter film being the Close cousin of Cruella). The relationship between the diva dress designer and her protégée, Emma Thompson and Stone, seems to be tailored from the Streep-Anna Hathaway relationship in The Devil Wears Prada.

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Cruella is stuffed to the gills with childhood adventures of large palatial balls with women in flowing gowns and men in flaming tuxedos whose ballroom dancing is disrupted by street-level intruders. This is anti Capitalist wish-fulfilment with a change in social order being blown up into broad-screen proportions. It’s a pity we have to watch this film at home where the magnitude of Ms Thompson’s villainy and Ms Stone’s revenge is considerably shrunken down. What cannot be cut to size is the film’s inherent sense of mischief and fun.

Partly fairytale. What if Cinderella were not a whiner but an aggressive fortune seeker and what if her evil stepmother were her real mother desirous of her own daughter’s downfall just to remain on top of the game?

Huge fun, provided you don’t try to intellectualize the plebian proceedings.

Directed by Craig Gillespie, Cruella gets 3 stars!

Image Source: Instagram/disneycruella , youtube/waltdisneystudios

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