The Binge-Watch List Spotlight: “Cruella”

A two-hour tale filled with fanfare and furore
Friday 10 September 2021

Disney+ Hotstar subscribers, rejoice. Although we may have missed out on Cruella’s theatrical release because of COVID-19 restrictions, we get to revel in the comforts of our home and have a ball of a time experiencing this film at home. While we wait for the possibility of Disney+ Premier Access (where viewers can pay extra for early access to a movie that’s still in theatres) to be made available in the region, we’ll just have to make do with a) catching the film at home, or b) venture out into the world and watch it in the movie theatres. 

The protagonist of the film, Estella Miller, later to be revealed as Cruella de Vil, is played by multi award-winning actress Emma Stone. Stone, along with Glenn Close—1996’s and 2000’s Cruella—are both executive producers for the film. In the 101 Dalmatians films, Cruella was always posed as the antagonist. However, in this prequel-slash-spin-off, we’re given a more intimate look into her life before the dalmatians. 

And there will be more to this story, as a sequel is confirmed, with Stone to reprise her role as Cruella. 


Which actors are in the film? 

Taking on the role of Cruella’s arch-nemesis is Emma Thompson. Her character, Baroness von Hellman, is a successful and influential woman of business. For this film, she shook off the Nanny McPhee demeanour, and adopted a more nefarious personality. 

Leashed to her side is John (played by Mark Strong), who is both the Baroness’ valet and loyal confidante.  

On Cruella’s team are Jasper and Horace Badun, played by Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser, respectively. Hauser is best known for his performance in Richard Jewell, one of the ten best films of 2019, per the United States’ National Board of Review. And for those who can’t quite place where they’ve seen Joel Fry, let me clear the air—he played as Hizdahr zo Loraq in Game of Thrones, a recurring character that made appearances in eight episodes throughout seasons 4 and 5 of the show. 


What is Cruella about? 

Although the first act of the film may not seem like it, the film has that certain The Devil Wears Prada dynamic to it, and for that, we have Aline Brosh McKenna to thank for the titillating drama as she was the scriptwriter for both The Devil Wears Prada and Cruella

Here, we see Cruella’s humble beginnings and her raucous youth. Her journey to London is nothing short of agony, but our mistress of dramatic entrances makes it, anyway. 

In the second act, our notoriously fashionable lead meets London’s haute couturier Baroness von Hellman, and what follows is a series of frenzied rivalry between the tyrannical Baroness and Cruella. 

While the film makes use of the Estella/Cruella duality to signal character growth, it most definitely centres the plot around the growing pains of a creative—or in Cruella’s case, a genius. Stolen and appropriated ideas and devious schemes are aplenty throughout the film. It is, after all, a dog eat dog world, and the movie does not spare us the details of what these two women are willing to do in order to stay at (or get to) the top. 

After a riveting two-hour, I can conclude that it’s worth a watch, especially if you appreciate the beauty of a well-designed set and captivating costumes. The moody and mature elements of the film intrigues the adult that I am today, and the whimsical Disney quality reminds me of simpler times.  


Where’s the trailer? 

Before you sink your teeth into the full movie, here’s the trailer to prepare you for the madness that’s coming.