Widely entertaining, you’ll never see a better film dominated by two wicked women!
Just like he demonstrated with Margo Robbie in I, Tonya (2017), Director Craig Gillespie has a skill for having talented actresses invade territories historically dominated by men. Here we have Oscar winners Emma Stone and Emma Thompson playing two nasty competitors in a fashion industry where compassion is a four-letter word.
Ms. Thompson plays the fashion legend Baroness Von Hellman, one of the most arrogant, self-centered characters to appear on the big screen. She dismisses everyone as lowly imbeciles and any compliments have to be directed at her. Only she can be so hatefully splendid.
Ms. Stone begins as Estella, an orphan living on the London streets from the age of 12 with two male friends. Seeking to break into the 1970’s fashion industry, she is forced to transform into Cruella in order to compete with the Baroness.
From that moment the film explodes on multiple levels. First of all, our two Emmas are dazzling as they fight fire with fire. As stunning as they are beautiful, these wicked ladies are a constant sight for sore eyes. They are magnificent at every turn.
And the film is helped by several supporting performances. Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Mark Strong prove critical to Cruella’s success as a non-partisan Court Reporter and a bodyguard with hidden intentions. John McCrea is unforgettable as a flamboyantly gay designer who wins Cruella’s trust. But it is both Paul Walter Hauser and Joel Fry who provide Cruella with needed familial friendship and assistance. These are two talented thieves.
What makes this film a work of art are the costumes, make-up and soundtrack. Give Jenny Felton credit for the gorgeous dresses and Tom Davies for Cruella’s eyewear. Yet it is the knockout score by Nicholas Britell that will leave you tapping your feet throughout this wonderful movie experience.
Just remember two things. First, the songs “Revenge/Let’s Begin” and “I’m Cruella“. They define the movie. Second, watch the closing credits. Overcome your fear as good things happen to dalmatians!