Disney villain given a backstory

“Cruella” is an unraveling secret


photo courtesy of IMDb.

Cruella was released nationwide on May 28, 2021. The film stars Emma Stone and tells the origin of one of Disney’s most notorious villains.

Makayla Taylor, Staff Reporter

If you’ve ever watched “101 Dalmatians” you probably wondered why Cruella De Vil (Betty Lou Gerson) would be evil enough to skin puppies for their fur. Well if you’re still curious, there’s a movie about it, “Cruella.”

The movie, directed by Craig Gillespie, starts with Estella Miller (Emma Stone) as a young girl with her mom, Catherine Miller (Emily Beecham), with a desire to become a fashion designer. It gives an overview of Estella growing up and being the troublemaker she is, she gets expelled from her elementary school, forcing her and her mother to move out of town. Catherine needs to make a small pitstop on the way to an unnamed friend of hers (Emma Thompson) for some money to last their trip, and when she tells Estella to stay in the car, of course, the little girl does not listen. This is when the story starts.                                                                       

Estella explains how she just wants to peek into the building they made their stop at. It “blew her mind,” Estella said, describing the fashion show she had walked into. Her dog alongside her, Buddy, runs out of her arms at someone passing by and Estella chases after him, but when she ducks down an unnamed man (Mark Strong) spots her and calls the dalmatians after her. She runs out of the building and sees her mom, to which she runs to, but the dalmatians catch up first when a whistle is blown by the “friend” of Estella’s mother singling them to push Catherine off the cliff nearby. I had been very shocked by this part, as we weren’t even 30 minutes in, but I did take notice of how well the acting and camera shots had been taken, it gave the movie depth and insight to help understand what was really happening.

Estella, farther into the movie and on her own, meets Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace Badun (Paul Walter Hauser) but she doesn’t have time to greet them before she, and the two boys, need to run from the park security. I did become confused with this, as there weren’t any reasons the movie gave to them running from the cops, but I feel as if it kept me thinking and gave the movie some suspense as to if she’d outrun them. The next scene we see is Estella climbing underground into a building to hide, and she’s once again met with the faces of Jasper and Horace. Just some seconds later Jasper makes the comment “A girl will make us seem innocent” hinting that they are thieves, as is Estella, which gives you the hint that they will be an important part of the story and maybe even come to be friends.

They make a jump cut after the three kids talk in that building, introducing themselves, but this is when they have a large time gap to Estella being a teenager, which disinterests me. Whenever movies have a very large difference it makes me think we’re missing information to what’s happening next, it forces us to think and guess what has happened over the time we missed. But overall the plot of the movie was satisfactory so far, I did have some questions though. Were the boys still friends with her? And most importantly, what happened between this time gap? 

The first scene we see to the new age is Estella getting ready and she walks out to Jasper and Horace — which answers my second question, but the story goes on as them being a close friend group full of stealing. They help Estella get a job in the fashion industry, in which she developed a liking for after her mother. She gets a job as a janitor for the company but gets fired due to destroying an important outfit, but this is where Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson) comes in. Baroness hires Estella because she was the one who did like the mess of an outfit she “created,” and this is the final chance Estella has to achieve her dream.

I started putting some pieces together in my head. This lady did look familiar, but I didn’t know where I had seen her from. There wasn’t much I had to answer my questions, because this was the first time meeting her. The movie goes on with Estella being the dress designer for this new lady. Attending fashion shows, making Baroness’ most significant pieces, but one conversation they had made me notice something. They started talking about some certain necklace, Catherines, but Baroness was the one who had it. This sparked some questions in my head. Where did she get that necklace from? Maybe it was a replica of Catherines? Baroness then suddenly is called into a meeting about the industry’s party coming up and this is the part of the movie that started to get less entertaining for me. Yes,  It gives a new plot to the story, but it did seem to be dragging on because it took much later for us to really understand why she had that necklace.

What did bring me back to watching was when Estella made a plan, one to go to the same party Baroness was throwing but dressed as Cruella. She has the idea to slip the necklace off of Baroness’s neck when she was distracted, in this case, Jasper freaked her out with some rats on top of her food, but the plan goes far downhill from here when one of the dogs accidentally swallows the necklace instead. I honestly believed that this wasn’t necessary to the plot. It was like they were trying everything to block us from really understanding the importance of that necklace, and although they would get it back soon, it felt like forever. On the other hand, I did like the way the story had a lot of plot twists because it made me more interested in what was going to happen next.

They dedicate the entire rest of this two-hour movie to getting revenge back on Baroness for stealing the necklace, in which they do succeed in the end. I thought the movie was decent, well written, and the characters were very intriguing the more we found out about them. This movie will have you wondering and make you put pieces together the entire time. So if you enjoy that, I suggest you watch this.