Emma Thompson exudes a devilish aura in ‘Curella’

A film about two women at war that makes a huge statement with funny one liners, fabulous fashions and flamboyant scenes, Disney’s “Curella’’ is a live action feature film about the rebellious early days of one of cinema’s most notorious villain – the legendary Cruella de Vil.

Emma Stone arrives at the premiere for Cruella at the El Capitan Theatre

Set in 1970s London amidst the punk rock revolution, “Cruella” follows a young grifter named Estella (Emma Stone), a clever and creative girl determined to make a name for herself with her designs. After losing her mother, she teams up with a pair of orphaned grifters who appreciate her appetite for mischief, and together they are able to build a life for themselves on the streets of London.

Dara Reneé arrives at the premiere for Cruella at the El Capitan Theatre on May 18, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

One day, Estella’s flair for fashion catches the eye of the Baroness von Hellman, a fashion legend who is devastatingly chic and terrifyingly haute, played by two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson (“Sense and Sensibility”). But their relationship sets in motion a course of events and revelations that will cause Estella to embrace her sinister side and become the raucous, fashionable, and revenge-bent Cruella.

Poster for Cruella

Directed by Craig Gillespie, it’s based on the novel “The One Hundred and One Dalmatians” by Dodie Smith and it also stars Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham, Mark Strong, and British actress Kirby Howell-Baptiste, who plays a former classmate called Anita Darling Estella reunites with.

Emma Thompson

The real joy in this is watching the smolderingly sinister Emma Thompson who exudes a devilish aura as the excessively conceited powerhouse who constantly berates and humiliates her employees with her chillingly light voice.  Vicious and gorgeous is her favorite touted combination and she gives a furiously funny performance as a nasty self-absorbed entrepreneur. When she’s absent from the screen, you do yearn to see her again.  She is extremely demanding and spectacular at put-downs, but she can say just as much, if not more in this origin tale by slowly raising a finger or a disapproving brow.

Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Anita Darling in Disney’s live-action CRUELLA. Photo by Laurie Sparham. © 2021 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“Why are you speaking?” She asks one. “You are short, you are fat, color blind and smell like an anchovy,” she tells another. “Go and get your dried up desiccated little brain working.” She hurls. The insults are toxic, and her delivery is apt.

“She’s a wickedly brilliant fashion designer who will stop at nothing to retain her place at the top of the food chain in the fashion world,” shares Thompson, “and it is something that hasn’t been done before that is truly original. It’s feisty, fierce and fun.”

Cruella releases in theaters May 28

Though a little dark, touching lightly on death and grief, it is a redemption story which is witty and frequently funny.

Music by Ohio Players, Nina Simone, Ike & Tina Turner, Blondie, Queen and The Clash, iconic artists of the period are also featured in the film, which releases in theaters Friday, May 28.  It will also be available on Disney+ with Premier Access for a one-time additional fee.

Check out the trailer below;


By Samantha Ofole-Prince

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