By Katie Walsh | Tribune press service
Some canonical Disney characters simply ask for further questioning. Fur-obsessed maniacal fashionista Cruella De Vil, who tormented the young Darling family and their Dalmatian puppies in “101 Dalmatians,” and even has her own theme song, has had a hold on our imaginations since the animated feature. in 1961. Glenn Close claimed the role in the 1996 live-action film, and now Emma Stone dons the black and white wig in an attempt to explain why Cruella was so hungry for those puppy skins.
Director Craig Gillespie managed to turn the cultural sentiment on the infamous Tonya Harding upside down with his 2017 Oscar nominated film “Me, Tonya”, so he’s an ideal director to take on “Cruella”. A dream team of screenwriters including Dana Fox, Tony McNamara, Aline Brosh McKenna, Kelly Marcel and Steve Zissis contributed to the screenplay, but solving a problem like “Cruella” isn’t easy. The movie is a humanizing origin story in the vein of “Joker,” but aimed at a teenage audience, and we can’t see her attempting to hurt dogs, but that’s all her thing. This is exactly the situation, characteristically.
Set in London, loosely in the 1970s, Gillespie attempts to deflect attention from all the squidful story moments with a furiously fast-paced shoot. The movie never, ever stops, the soundtrack sweeping through classic rock tunes from Zombies to Nina Simone at an almost breakneck pace. The camera dives, dives, crawls, rushes and climbs the streets and buildings where young street kid Cruella, née Estella (Stone), grows up pickpocketing with her best friends Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) and Jasper (Joel Fry), who took her under their wing after the tragic death of her mother. Her journey to understanding this life-changing loss will be the driving force behind Estella’s life, and what will push her to embrace her savage alter ego, Cruella.