Today my 13yr old daughter Millisent and I went to see the modern day adaptation of one of my childhood Disney classics, 101 Dalmatians. Told through the eyes of the lead character Estella played by actress Emma Stone, this young and somewhat troubled fashion-lover finds herself in a tug of war between her past, present and future.
Here we’d like to share our thoughts on this movie through the eyes of a mother and daughter.
Tracy Says… 10/10
I can still feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. Wow. What. A. Sensation… Today was my first experience at an indoor cinema since the pandemic began and I have to confess that I was a little apprehensive at the thought of being confined indoors with so many people wearing a mask. Yet from the moment my daughter and I stepped foot through the nostalgic doors of the Odeon my apprehension for returning to normal life melted in an instance.
The low lights, cool air conditioning on a hot day and smell of freshly ground coffee filling the air was complimented by the smiling eyes of the faces of fellow cinema-goers all donning face masks and keeping a casual distance rather than the fearful caution we first experienced over a year ago. For the first time in what seems to be a very long time I was able to breathe a sigh of relief and lose myself in the beautiful escapism of cinema.
I couldn’t help but reminisce on the thought of my fumbling fingers as a child, snapping open the chunky plastic cover of my favourite VHS tape ‘101 Dalmations’, clunking it into the player and watching it get swallowed into the darkness as the television screen sprung to life with the starting sequence of a childhood cartoon classic.
When I close my eyes I can still see and hear the chaotic, menacing mad-woman from my childhood; the enigma that is Cruella De Vil with her diva-esque geometric cheek bones, long slender fingers and shockingly outrageous fashion creations personifying her dark soul with her villainous dark extravagance and the iconic monochrome Dalmatian print that this movie is so famous for.
I can still see her red burning eyes as she raced in her classical car, ruthless, heartless and cruel to the bone. So you might say that I had already stereotyped her character before stepping foot in the door. Something that Disney have absolutely astounded me with over the past several years are their remakes of the family cartoon classics that are so poignant from my childhood and I feel somewhat addicted to seeing the other side of the story in their modern day portrays of Disney villains.
I love the juxtaposition of showing villains as victims and explaining how such people came to be the way that they are, deepening our understanding of their identity and connecting actions to our new found understanding and respect for mental health awareness.
Without wanting to spoil the surprise and many twists and turns for those who have yet to see this movie, please take the tingling of my hair follicles still standing on end as my absolute recommendation to go and see it. The ASMR sensation – autonomous sensory meridian response – of watching a film at the cinema versus on a somewhat dishevelled sofa, that I’ve spent far too much time sitting on this past year at home, is incomparable.
A delectable feast for the senses; the vibrations of the audio felt within the heart, crispness of detail, richness of colours on the big screen and ability to be transported from a luxurious reclining cinema seat with extra leg room directly into the glamour and action of a blockbuster movie makes every care and concern of everyday life simply evaporate in a plume of Cruellas car exhaust and the ambient lighting of a candlelit ballroom reignite your belief in magic and fairytales.
The two Emma’s (Emma Stone as Cruella De Vil and Emma Thompson as the Baroness) stole the show for me and made this remake a sensational masterpiece that I know will be just as precious to my children as its predecessor from 1991 is to me.
The Baroness gave me such Meryl Streep vibes from the Devil Wears Prada with her bold red lipstick, devilishly immaculate and powerful outfits and crispness of tone with every sting of her calculated words. I found myself literally staring at her lips waiting eagerly for every perfectly constructed comeback, demands and narcissistic responses, because after all, we do enjoy seeing a villain be a villain!
Something that I really wasn’t expecting was the depth of Cruella’s performance which made my gasps of horror burst into sheer pity, sadness and rebound back to disproval again within a split second. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Joaquin Phoenix phenomenal portrayal of The Joker. The feeling of heartbreak, fragility and insanity with glimpses of a vulnerable and broken soul that lies beneath wanting to be good but being forced into a life of hardship and unfortunate circumstances. I connected so deeply with the characters that I honestly believe I could be one of those people who come across an actor in the street and speak to them as if their character is real “how could you have done that to your own daughter!?” But I won’t, of course!
The magic was most definitely there for me. Despite this film having a 12 rating for age, as an adult, parent and woman it spoke to me on so many levels; for empowerment, injustice, self understanding and overcoming hardship. This movie is multidimensional and stimulates every emotion so wholly that I would happily see it again for the sake of feeling so alive and in touch with each character. It’s almost a shame that it had to end and the illusion of such a fantastically scripted and delivered storyline couldn’t somehow be a part of my everyday life.
If there is one thing that applies to all humans, it is that we are never satisfied. For example, if the weather is cold we want the heat or if it’s hot we want the cold. However, if I could have said one thing while walking out of Odeon, it’s that I was satisfied.
Cruella is a story that shows both sides of a person and Emma Stone portrayed that character exceptionally, her actions and overall manner created one of the best characters I’ve ever seen on screen.
The film inspired this idea that you don’t have to be accepted if you would rather stand out from the crowd. In the wise words of Artie ‘ Normal is the cruelest insult of them all ‘ and this quote added extravagance to the film but also held a strong message behind it.
I, being a teenager, saw this film as a revolution of fashion, character, and achievements. It proved to me that you don’t have to come from a perfect background or fit into a mold to achieve your dreams. It struck confidence and power into the atmosphere around me, and strength from the characters on screen. I loved how Cruella became her true self and realised that she couldn’t keep herself hidden from the world.
The 70s punk theme is enticing because I wasn’t a part of the era, but it made me feel that I was walking down the streets of London in the 1970s, and one of the people who everyone knew as the outrageous trouble maker.
I could feel the authority radiating off of the characters such as the Baroness or Cruella and it gave me goosebumps. It proved to me how powerful you can become from trusting your instincts and voicing your ideas.
It’s crazy to think that an adaption to the story of a hated character from a Disney movie made in 1961 could create such a tremendous atmosphere and inspire anyone who watches it. When people would see a film for Cruella advertised they may think that the plot is all dark, and I’m not saying it isn’t but it proves there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if that light is smaller than a moth.
Even though most would think this film is for children, the characters and meaning grow stronger with understanding. As for children, this could be a story of how the bad guy wasn’t so bad. For a teenager, someone who was misunderstood but came out on top. Finally, for an adult, no matter where you’ve gone in life or how you live it, just be yourself, and it’s never too late for dreams to come true.
This film brought me through a rollercoaster of emotions and I would rate it as the best re-tell of a Disney film that I have seen (10/10). This adaption of the original Cruella de Vil brought light to the fact that not all stories are the same, it just depends whose telling them, but I can say for a fact that I prefer the new Cruella de Vil to the old.