OPINION: Emma Stone delivers stellar performance in new “Cruella”

Photo of the “Cruella” poster via IMDb.com.

Jamie Blodgett | Contributing Writer

The prequel to Disney’s 1996 live-action film “101 Dalmatians” is here and Emma Stone has proven critics wrong with her captivating performance of Disney’s beloved villain.

Prior to the release of the film critics were skeptical of the prequel as a multitude of Disney prequels have not been received well by the public, including “The Lion King 1.5” and “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning,” but Stone’s portrayal of the villain was inspired.

Despite Stone being raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, her London accent in the film was spot on, making even me wonder if she was British in real life. The film is set in 1970’s London following the life of Estella beginning around 10 years old. The plot truly picks up once her mother passes, and Estella creates a new life with two thieves. The film then jumps to Estella and the thieves (Horace and Jasper) as adults in their 20’s.

Without giving too much away, Estella ends up getting recognized by a fashion legend known as the Baroness. She begins working for her, creating designs that skyrocket to the public’s eye as the Baroness kept claiming them to be her own. Estella decides to take revenge upon learning of some information as it pertains to the Baroness, so she turns to her split persona of Cruella and steals attention from the Baroness’ at every one of her galas again and again with Cruella’s unique and well crafted designs. Although no reference to a split personality is mentioned in the film, it is mentioned that she has ‘split selves’ due to significantly unstable emotions.

Unlike the 1996 film, Cruella is in her 20’s the majority of the film, and does not harm any Dalmatians. Instead she uses fake fur in attempts to get under the Baroness’ skin. This tactic works as the Baroness uses three dalmatians as pets, and brings them to every gala with her.

Stone’s portrayal of Cruella captivated audiences making it the 3rd most watched streaming title logging 815 million viewers the last week of August. I was captivated from the very beginning, as this prequel is a new take on Cruella, while paying homage to the 1996 film in many respects. 

I very much appreciated the node to 1996 Cruella with the dalmatian plot line, black and white hair, and the same ‘mad’ attitude that gives her the villain title, but I thoroughly enjoyed the newness that came with Emma Stone playing a 20ish year old Cruella rather than a 60ish year old Cruella. The 1970s London set was spot on from the cars to the building all the way to the costume design, but what really stood out was the performances made by actors Joel Fry (Jasper), Emma Thompson (Baroness), and Paul Walter Hauser (Horace). Their performances complimented Stone’s creating a Disney Villain movie worth watching.

‘Cruella’ is now available on Disney+

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