Emma Stone gives a whole new look to the iconic Disney character
Taking on the role of an iconic Disney character such as Cruella is not easy, especially if the name of your predecessor is Glenn Close. I’m quite sure Emma Stone was aware of it when she accepted the role in the new film directed by Craig Gillespie (United States of Tara, I Tonya) but, meanwhile, Disney’s famous “bad girl” has changed a lot.
Cruella debuts today, May 26, 2021, in Italian cinemas will be available from May 28 on the Disney + platform (for VIP users plus an additional cost).
The film opens with Estella’s turbulent childhood, a time made of exuberance, a certain sense of fashion and a rebel nature. Her mother, a sweet and quiet woman, doesn’t resemble her very much, but she raises her trying to put her in traditional education circuits to make her life as simple as possible. At least, she tries. But there’s no place for Estella’s extravagance in the English hinterland: after the death of her mother, due to what looks like an accident, Estella will end up living in London, still a kid and completely alone.
To make ends meet, she joins a small gang of thieves, Jasper and Horace: it will take time and adulthood to understand that her dream to become a fashion designer cannot live on gimmicks.
The artistic turmoil of the 70s acts as an inspiration to Estella and she is given a chance when, while working as a jack of all trades for an important department store chain, she disregards the orders of her boss and sets up a shop window: Baroness von Hellman, director of a prestigious fashion house, will notice her work asking Estella to join her team.
Craig Gillespie’s Cruella looks a bit like Joker, not in the spirit, but in the way it tells the genesis of an iconic character we knew little about until now. Like Arthur Fleck, Estella is the child of marginalization and bullying and she wasn’t born cruel. However, she is not Arthur Fleck: she faces her discomfort from her childhood, with the few weapons she has. What makes her “bad” is not the trauma caused by her mother’s death, but the discoveries connected to it (don’t ask for spoilers!).
Moreover, the new Cruella is very different from Glenn Close’s character and it’s not only a matter of age: Emma Stone is reminiscent of a young and eccentric Vivienne Westwood, motivated in making her dreams come true and, only after some revelations, she will think about revenge. Furthermore, the film, even remaining tied to 101 Dalmatians, has a whole new look: the story takes place in a multicultural environment populated by strong women (from Estella to the “unbearable” Baroness, masterfully played by Emma Thompson) and, as the story goes, we will find out that Cruella’s hatred of Dalmatians has an origin and, actually, is not even that deep.
Gillespie’s film has solid foundations: a good actress, who was able to renew an iconic character without distorting it completely, a credible story (maybe more young adult-oriented) and an extraordinary soundtrack.
If you are not too traditional, you will enjoy the new punk rock Cruella.