Cruella [2021] ★★★

I didn’t think I’d care for an origin story about Cruella, one of Disney’s most infamous villains. But she’s the protagonist of her own story here, and it’s easy to root for her right from the start, thanks to a colorful and committed performance by Emma Stone. The movie itself is well-made and visually stunning, making it a must for Disney fans. Stone steals the show as Estella, an orphaned kid with dreams of her own. Set in 1970’s London, we follow her story as she tries to make her way in the fashion industry, locking horns along the way with fashion legend Baroness von Hellman, perfectly played by Emma Thompson. The film is a perfect blend of comedy and drama, and both actresses make the best of it. But it’s hard to talk about the movie’s success without mentioning the beautiful production design, fabulous costumes, and the eye popping visuals. Of course, this is the story of how Estella came to be Cruella (call it “Cruella Begins” if you will), but it wouldn’t mean a damn if we weren’t given a reason to care for all these characters. Safe to say, the people behind this movie gave us that and more, in a movie that runs for over two hours but never feels long. If you’re curious about the origins of Cruella, or if you’re simply a Disney fan, I think you’ll find plenty to enjoy here. This is a pleasant surprise, to say the least.

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