A villain gets deeper but sugarcoated character in “Cruella”


Source: Disney Plus

The prequel to “101 Dalmatians,” the new film “Cruella” strikes a good balance between portraying the evil and the tragedy in the life of Cruella de Vil (Emma Stone) and how she became the villain we recognize today.

“Cruella” follows Estella Miller (Emma Stone), a rowdy and rebellious kid with an eye for fashion. Her mother Catherine (Emily Beecham) gives her the nickname Cruella because of Estella’s cruel and blunt commentary.

It was entertaining seeing Estella cause so much chaos at her primary school, starting fights and sticking up for herself. It added energy to the movie.

Estella’s life spirals when her mother plummets to her death after being attacked by the dalmatian guard dogs of an unknown woman.

This scene was more funny than heart-wrenching, because I had seen people make jokes about it when the movie was announced. I also assumed that her mother’s death would neatly lead to Estella’s role in “101 Dalmatians,” but Disney gracefully subverted my expectations.

Estella leads a life of crime as an orphan alongside two others named Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Houser). Through luck, creativity and some scheming, Estella weasels her way into the fashion world as an employee with the Baroness (Emma Thompson), a fashion titan.

The scenes in which Cruella flaunts her eye-catching and bold fashion are the highlights of the movie. It gives her raw strength, sharpened by her budding evil.

But Estella’s venture into fashion reveals an ugly truth of her past and she soon adopts the nickname Cruella as a persona, molding her into the villain we now know.

I had some reservations about the movie at first because I didn’t want her backstory to justify her misdeeds. Thankfully, her tragic backstory does not erase her villainy.

Even though the backstory does not pardon all her wrongs, the film still flattered Cruella with a little too much sympathy. And if you’re coming into “Cruella” expecting to see her act as the vain, fashionable villain we all remember, you may feel disturbed by the more kind-eyed direction taken with her character.

It was still a fun movie to watch, even when the tragic backstory turned me away.

4 out of 5 stars