April 14, 2024

CRUELLA (2021) – Dark undertones overshadowed by Disney magic and two Emma’s

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Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

Disney’s latest live action feature on a cartoon character is a take on the villainess from its classic 101 Dalmations. Like Maleficent and Joker, Cruella plays on the trend to turn the table around by portraying the viilain in a sympathetic light. It is quite disturbing to think that we have to reassess all these people whom we used to loathe as kids, as someone who is now being portrayed as almost a hero of sorts.

Academy Award winner Emma Stone plays a young Cruella with a nicer and kinder alter ego, Estella in this back story for the origins of the Cruella that we all know. Her Estella has a most unfortunate past and is orphaned at a very young age before surviving on her own in London, with two young pick pockets and a pair of dogs as her guardians. Set in the 1960’s and 1970’s era, we get the opportunity to be bombarded by a lively nostalgic soundtrack. Emma Stone is a delight to watch as always. Her Estella / Cruella is someone you will root for and identify with. A cruel twist of fate, a natural born talent for designing stunning women clothings, and a deep rooted loyalty to her friends and dogs. She sets her goals on her idol, a fashion queen played by the impeccable Emma Thompson. These two Emma’s truly light the screen on fire with their acting repertoire, making this a tour de force of popular art. Even though there is a bit of “The Devil Wears Prada” familiarity here, but the two Emma’s manages to make this theiNot to be overlooked are the charming side kicks, Emma’s pick pockets friends, Jasper and Horace, played by Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser. Their humour is subtle and lovable especially when combined with the antics of their teo adorable dogs. The other element that steals the show is the eye popping costumes. Many of these are outrageous but somehow made to look magnificent in the movie. Add all the elements together and you get instant movie magic.

My only comprehension with Cruella is on its dark theme and the potential danger it poses being a Disney vehicle. Strip off all the glitz and what we have really is a glorification of someone who is a thief and justification for killing someone for revenge. Certainly not something one would expect from the family centric Disney Studios. I wonder how this manage to get sanctioned. Given this dark undertone, Cruella is definitely not suitable for the very young and very impressionable. It is bordering more in the lines of the super heroes universe. Whatever happened to the good old “happily ever after” endings? This one feels more like a “happily evil after” …

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