What a joy it was to finally go to the cinema on Saturday evening . Even being unable to get tickets for my first cinema of choice was fine because it meant screenings were sold out. People are starting to embrace life outside the home again and it’s good to see.
And what a film to restart big screen outings with!
Cruella is a riot of fun, colour, music and fast moving mayhem. Pure entertainment. An effective mish mash of The Devil wears Prada, Oliver and Ocean’s 11 with a dash of The dark knight rises and Catwoman. But despite borrowing many inspirations, it works perfectly in its own right.
Cruella is the punky, loud, in yer face origins story of Cruela Deville from 101 dalmations, a pampered, glamorous heiress prone to kidnapping dogs and making coats from their fur. Created by English author Dodie Smith, the distinctive image of the character; black and white skunk hair, jazzy, black and white dotted coat has spawned a thousand fancy dress party costumes.
The first live action Cruella was brilliantly brought to life by Glenn Close. Emma Stone enjoys herself hugely stepping into the shoes of the younger incarnation in this version.
Young Estella is a constant headache for her long suffering, sweet natured mother who just wants her to, at least, try and fit into the small town they live in. Estella gives it her best shot but like her salt and pepper on acid hair, she can’t help but stand out. Finally, expelled from school, mother and daughter set off for a new start in London. On the way they stop off to meet her mother’s mysterious friend at the imposing Hellman hall where Estella, a wannabe fashion designer glimpses her first runway shown and is instantly smitten. Criminal tragedy strikes at the hall and Estella lands in London alone and orphaned until she befriends two street urchins prone to a little pickpocketing. They become a team and form a loyal, underworld family.
As a birthday gift, her friends get the now adult Estella (Emma Stone) a job in her dream store Liberty. It’s a lowly position as a floor scrubbing cleaner but Estella dreams of fame and fortune as a fashion designer. When the imperious, immoral, totally in love with herself, fashion queen Baroness spots her budding talent, it seems like Estella’s ship has finally come.
Emma Thompson, resplendent in an array of gorgeous, over the top, shoulder padded gowns, devours the screen as the narcissistic, self absorbed Baroness. She gets the best, deliciously cruel but very funny one liners in the film and clearly relishes spitting them out at all and sundry. The Baroness is the fashion boss from the Devil wears Prada on steroids, acid and several cans of Red Bull. Thompson is an absolute hoot as the preeningly awful ogre of a boss and steals every scene she’s in.
Estella begins her fashion career as the diffident, put upon employee of the Baroness but when she discovers the older woman’s involvement in the death of her beloved mother, the long suppressed Cruella within emerges. Soon the two women are locked in an epic battle to the, literally, death.
With a stonking 60s and 70s soundtrack taking us from The Beatles and Nancy Sinatra to Blondie via Led Zeppelin, gorgeous costumes to die for by Jenny Beavan and the whip cracking energy of the two Emmas going gleefully head to head in fantastic performances, Cruella is a fabulous rush of blood to the head. Go see it!