Cruella (2021) - Brilliant. Bad. A little bit mad.
Darling, it's been a while!
We live in a brave new world - not exactly all puns intended but ... oh well - and we get to see another Disney experiment of offering a backstory for some of their very well known villains. Being bad sells...tickets...merchandise...so on... so forth.
Personally, I believed the experiment had been done ok....ish with "Once Upon A Time" when the villains got a better character development than the rest of the rooster - might have helped the fact that the villains were played by actors who chewed the script and kicked back with some epic interpretation (I'm looking at you Regina, you beautiful disaster, you). But I am digressing and I came here to mince words about Cruella, formally known as Estella.
We often wondered what made Cruella into that Dalmatian hating, cigarette smoking, yester years queen of mean.
In the year of our Lord, 2021, Cruella doesn't smoke and the whole making fur coats out of puppies skin is a big no no. We don't get that but we do get a clever twist of the puppies fur coat because villains often benefit (and not) of the gossip and vicious rumors spun about them.
"Cruella" is as many have said by now a mix between "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Joker". I would also like to add, it's also a fabulous tribute to the London fashion set of the '70s, with punk and grit and attitude and music. Somewhere at Disney, someone should send a check to Vivienne Westwood, Cruella is infused with clever bits and pieces of the Dame of Punk Fashion's golden years.
Here is a funny story. I hate "The Devil Wears Prada". Book and movie and the whole let's worship Miranda Priestley. When I was fresh out of college, Miranda Priestley was the type of boss everyone worshipped and yes, she was considered the Gordon Gecko for women in the 2000s. Yes, because having a boss who uses mental torture, abuses you and makes live in a toxic working environment is the thing everyone should experience at least once in our lives. And we wonder why many of us end up struggling for years after surviving such abusive work places. And no, I don't give a damn about poor Miranda and her marital status and family woes. She treated her staff the way tyrants treated slaves and thought it was normal and accepted and many would love to experiment what is like to slowly go mad.
Cruella, bless her soul, gets the full package, family drama, personal drama, work drama, all of it packed with some sort of an attempt of showing how one ends up creating and alter ego and letting that alter ego run amuck when live isn't hitting you down.
Yes, I could stay here and paint a whole worship piece about how good Emma Stone, Emma Thompson are in this movie. Others did it, you know it by know. The roles played are the type of roles actors have fun and the whole gimmick about Cruella's background is played nicely (well, as nicely as the script allowed it, trust me, by the time the movie begins, if you've watched similar flicks, you might get a good grasp of what to expect and dear Cruella, loves to point out that there is darkness ahead. It's also the kind of Disney script we're used to by now but if compared to the horrors of "Maleficent 1 and 2", this one turned pretty good. Again, kudos to the actors and the fact the script benefits from the punk era, the fashion gowns ( the clothes are beautiful) and the soundtrack.
The song choices are rather good and fit the whole story and atmosphere, complete with Florence and the Machine giving us a return to the "Ceremonials" era with the title song. I considered, sweet Florence is the queen of singing the tragic tunes of the anti-heroes.
Not exactly a minus but I got to the part were hearing "Sympathy for the devil" needs to be perfect so I could savor the whole effect. The tune that is now the anthem for every villain in every movie and TV series. It's the check thy songs list, in a proper and somewhat not so inspiring way. Yes, I still struggle with the choice of song for the last minutes of Cruella. I would have given more momentum to the original Florence tune for that scene but it is what it is. I don't complain about the whole "now it's my time to shine, scores are settled and let's focus on what lies ahead".
Right now there is much ado about a sequel and personally, I cringe a little especially since it's called as a Godfather 2 sequel and prequel. Darlings, I do believe everyone thinks they can capture lighting twice just like it happened with the Michael Corleone saga. Here is a wonderful piece of reality, it rarely happened and it's not exactly necessary. What would a Cruella sequel offer to us? A background on Emma Thompson The Baroness? No thank you. I got exactly the right amount about her in this movie? A follow up of how Cruella DeVil builds a fashion empire and slowly shedding the clothes of the anti-hero and putting on the gown of the cackling villain? No thank you.
You know what I would truly love? Disney to have some balls and put together something about Artie (played by John McCrea) and create the rise of Artie, the fashion Head Designer of House DeVil. Let's hear it for this original character who effortlessly and flawlessly made a home in my little black heart.
What else to add?
Besides the fact that in my fair Romania, we only get the theatrical release. There's no official news when we get Disney+ ( Disney, don't you want my money?!) but we take what we get and have a ball with it.
Brilliant. Bad. A little bit mad. The moment Cruella/Estella fully embraces her spoken qualities, we feel it as well. We are taught from an early age that the right path is the plain and proper. Life doesn't follow that scenario and it's up to us to be heroes of our own stories. It often happens we also become the villains for others who are the receiving end of our acts and decisions.
Mulan worked with "loyal, brave and true". Nice, alright. Works for many.
I work better with Cruella:
The thing is, I was born brilliant, born bad, and a little bit mad.