FILM REVIEW | Cruella

Anarchic. Bold. Fun. Devilish.

Disney's latest live action villain origin story is a punk-infused joy to watch.

Cruella, a prequel of sorts to the classic animation 101 Dalmatians, is one of the rare Disney live action attempts that is actually a great addition to the collection.

Oscar-winner Emma Stone (La La Land) plays the fabulously villainous Cruella de Vil in the film directed by Aussie Craig Gillespie.

Gillespie previously showed his deftness at big screen fare with the very fantastic I, Tonya, and he has continued the good form with Cruella.

The film starts with the iconic character as a child, called Estella. Born with the half black, half white hair that we've all grown to love, the child was immediately mischievous and drawn to trouble.

But, with a loving mother urging her not to be cruel - "remember, you're Estella, not Cruella" - the youngster tries her best to be good.

All this goes away when her mother is chased off a cliff by angry Dalmatians and dies.

Finding herself incredibly alone, the not-yet-Cruella hitches a ride to London and makes a surrogate family with two other street orphans - Jasper and Horace.

Devilish: Emma Stone stars as the titular villain in Disney's latest live action fare Cruella, rated PG, in cinemas now. Picture: Disney

Devilish: Emma Stone stars as the titular villain in Disney's latest live action fare Cruella, rated PG, in cinemas now. Picture: Disney

Fast-forward a few years and the trio are pulling grifts until Estella gets a job with her fashion hero - The Baroness (a Miranda Priestly-esque Emma Thompson).

Only once our protagonist realises The Baroness played a part in her mother's death, does the inner Cruella come to the surface - and the real, joyous villainy starts.

Cruella is just brilliant fun from beginning to end.

From the soundtrack (opening up with Supertramp's Bloody Well Right and featuring tracks from The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Nina Simone, The Clash and more) to the production design and everyone's amazing and slightly over-the-top performances, the film is a gonzo fest of fashionable anarchy.

And the fashion itself - unsurprisingly for a film about villainous fashion designers - is just incredible.

Cruella's designs are reminiscent of the work of punkish designers Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen, and a guerilla fashion show scene in the film is an absolute delight.

Stone is commanding and kooky in the lead, and has great control of her British accent.

Thompson, as always, is a legend and her character is impossible to hate even when she does heinous acts.

Paul Walter Hauser (who worked with director Gillespie on I, Tonya) is another scene-stealer as Horace, alongside the more reserved Joel Fry as Jasper.

The film also stars Mark Strong, Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Kayvan Novak.

Fans of the original animation and the 90s live action adaptation will still love this prequel, as it has plenty of homages and easter eggs for them to enjoy.

Do yourself a favour and catch Cruella in cinemas.

Rating: 8/10