D: Craig Gillespie

Disney (Andrew Gunn, Marc Platt & Kristin Burr) 

US 🇺🇸 2021

134 mins


W: Dana Fox & Tony McNamara [based on characters created by Dodie Smith]

DP: Nicolas Karakatsanis

Ed: Tatiana S. Reigel

Mus: Nicholas Britell

PD: Fiona Crombie

Cos: Jenny Beavan

Emma Stone (Estella / Cruella), Emma Thompson (The Baroness), Joel Fry (Jasper), Paul Walter Hauser (Horace), Mark Strong (John), Emily Beecham (Catherine)

Though this was marketed as a prequel and origin story to the villainess from 101 Dalmatians, it would be more accurate to call this an alternative history and “what if” story about the characters background, as she’s portrayed here as more of a misunderstood rebel rather than someone who harbours desire to make a coat from the skin of puppies.

The story mostly combines elements from Oliver Twist and The Devil Wears Prada, set against the backdrop of punk era London and the 1970’s fashion scene, where rebellious orphan Estella (Emma Stone) lands a job in the costuming house for the belligerent Baroness (Emma Thompson), giving birth to her alter-ego as the two women try to one-up each other over who can create the most eye-popping dresses.

Director Craig Gillespie channels his inner Tim Burton for the occult visuals, and you’d be more than forgiven for thinking this was a TB movie. Emma Stone is quite fabulous in the lead whilst the costume design by Oscar winner Jenny Beavan really is the star of the show.

As a stand-alone story, it’s a perfectly entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable family movie, but as a prequel, it just proves that Disney as a studio really are void of any originality and put all their eggs in nostalgia’s basket to make a quick buck.


Emma Stone in Cruella
Emma Stone in Cruella