Cruella 7 points
United States, 2021
Direction: Craig Gillespie.
Script: Dana Fox y Tony McNamara.
Duration: 134 minutes.
Interpreters: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, John McCrea.
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The English writer Dodie Smith could not imagine that her novel The 101 Dalmatians, published in 1956, was to be adopted by the Walt Disney Company just five years later. Much less that, decades later, the story would be taken back to the cinema with actors and dogs of flesh and blood, starting a film saga that has just incorporated a new chapter, this time under the formula of the prequel, dedicated to the titular villain. of history, Cruella de Vil. Of course, it would have been impossible for Glenn Close to interpret the early years of the character, his “genesis”, to use a term in vogue in the superhero universe. The person responsible for giving life to the woman with two-tone hair is now Emma Stone, centerpiece of a calibrated cast of British actors and actresses that includes another Emma, the Thompson, as the protagonist’s nemesis, in a duel of the world of haute couture that can be equated to that of The Devil Wears Prada, which the script by Dana Fox and Tony McNamara clearly uses for reference.
Cruella, directed by Australian Craig Gillespie (I am tonya, Lars and the real girl), not your typical family film made in Disney, starting with its PG-13 rating in the United States. The fall from a cliff of Estella’s mother, a rebellious girl who has not yet exploited her gifts of cruelty (and the corresponding change of name), anticipates that the territory of the film will be marked by certain doom and some ties to the harsh realities of the world. The first thirty minutes, when Estella is a twelve-year-old girl suddenly thrown into a life on the streets, she refers almost nonstop to Dickens’s universe, with that trio of petty thieves ready to conquer London, the cosmopolitan city that is about to leave behind the last memories of the Blitz to fully enter the swinging sixties.
Cut to the youth of Stella, whose community life with her cronies in crime could be interpreted as a kind of proto-hypism. The most unthinkable birthday gift for the young woman, a longtime fan of high-end tailoring, is a job entry in one of the most exclusive fashion stores. Well from below, in the cleaning of sinks and toilets. From there to contacting Baroness von Hellman (Thompson, worse than the plague, but not as bad as Estella / Cruella will be in the future) there is only one step. The talented aspiring and dictatorial queen of fashion, whose whims can only be compared to her iron hand when it comes to running the business and who, not coincidentally, owns three dogs of the spotted breed.
The first hour – of a somewhat long film – is undoubtedly the best. The exuberance of the period reconstruction does not overshadow the actions and the pace of the narrative is almost always vital and interesting. Help the soundtrack, full of popular topics and not so much that they go from the Stones to Ike & Tina and from Supertramp to ELO, without neglecting Blondie and The Clash, just when the cruel rebellion of the protagonist reaches its apogee. And it is true: there’s something subtly punk about Cruella, who does not allow himself to be overcome by stupidity. At times, it is possible to imagine the Cruella de Stone proudly showing the middle finger, although the owners of the franchise would never have allowed it. The Artie incarnated by John McCrea brings a dose of glam androgyny to a story soaked in spirits of bygone eras, another of the interesting elements of a film that is better than the sum of its parts, the good and the not so much. Maybe in the future you will remember Cruella As the Joker from Disney movies.