Despite my fears, the pandemic didn’t kill the movie theater, at least not yet.
After 15 months away, I returned to the movies. It was chicken-and-egg time; studios didn’t want to release their biggest films until they were sure audiences would turn out to see them; audiences were waiting for something worth turning out for.
I was in a celebratory mood—I was out of the house, among people, and had a larger-than-life story on the screen in front of me. May I never take it for granted again.
I wanted a popcorn movie—fun, loud, and over-the-top.
I wanted Cruella.
Emma Stone stars in this origin story of one of Disney’s most notorious villains—Cruella de Vil, the black and white haired woman who murders and skins dogs to make their pelts into a fur coat in 101 Dalmatians.
This version’s Cruella starts out as Estella, a rebellious girl with obvious creative talent. Early in the film, a pack of vicious Dalmatians kill Estella’s mother, leaving her orphaned and out on the street.
Estella comes of age in the 1970s, a countercultural grifter who steals to eat. Still rebellious, still talented.
She wants to be a fashion designer and gets her chance when she gets wasted and redecorates the front window of a department store that catches the eye of The Baroness (Emma Thompson), a fashion world icon.
She and The Baroness become rivals with more than just fashion between them.
Estella’s not exactly a villain. But she’s a far cry from the Disney princesses of my youth.
As Cruella herself tells the audience:
“The thing is I was born brilliant. Born bad. And a little bit mad.”
But don’t worry, no matter what the papers print about her, she never kills any dogs.
It’s still a Disney movie after all.
This is part of my Movies I’m Grateful For series, running daily through the month of November.
Other films include: Splash | New Moon | The Lucky One | Thelma and Louise | Katy Perry: Part of Me | Crazy Rich Asians | Under the Tuscan Sun | Terminator 2 | Moulin Rouge! | How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days | Practical Magic | Schindler’s List | Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol | Stardust | The Man in the Moon | The Others | Little Women |