Estella is a highly creative child born with poliosis, turning half of her black hair white. She demonstrates a talent for fashion and a cruel streak from an early age, leading her mother Catherine to nickname her “Cruella”. Due to Estella’s rebellious nature, Catherine pulls her daughter from private school and plans to move to London. On the way there, she stops at a party hosted by the wealthy Baroness von Hellman to ask for financial assistance. Estella witnesses her mother being pushed off a cliff to her death by the Baroness’ ferocious Dalmatians. Now an orphan, Estella makes her own way to London and befriends two street urchins named Jasper and Horace, who adopt her as their sister. To go unnoticed, she starts dyeing her hair red.
Ten years later, Estella is now working with her adoptive brothers as a thief and hustler, honing her fashion skills by crafting elaborate disguises. For her birthday, Jasper and Horace get her a real job as a cleaning woman at the Liberty department store. When the manager refuses to promote her, a drunken Estella remakes one of the window displays and winds up landing a coveted job with the Baroness, who is a renowned but authoritarian haute couture designer. Estella gains the Baroness’ confidence but eventually notices her boss wearing a necklace that once belonged to Catherine. After the Baroness claims it had once been stolen by an employee, Estella asks Jasper and Horace to retrieve the necklace.
Estella, now calling herself Cruella and dyeing her hair back to its natural colors, crashes one of the Baroness’ parties to steal the necklace. When the Baroness uses a whistle to command her Dalmatians, Estella realizes that she used the same whistle to direct her dogs to murder Catherine. Seeking revenge for her mother’s death, Estella taunts the Baroness by appearing at several of her gatherings and upstaging her as Cruella in flamboyant outfits; this enables her to gain publicity for her own label through her childhood friend Anita, now a journalist. Cruella’s haughty and arrogant behavior increasingly angers Jasper and Horace, as well as the Baroness, who fires her lawyer Roger for failing to learn Cruella’s true identity. Estella also kidnaps the Baroness’ Dalmatians after one of them accidentally swallows her mother’s necklace.
Estella decides to finish off the Baroness by sabotaging her Spring Collection show and staging her own show in Regent’s Park. The Baroness, having deduced that Estella and Cruella are one and the same, has Jasper and Horace arrested and ties up Estella, leaving her to die in a fire. Estella is rescued by the Baroness’ valet John, who reveals the necklace is a key to a box containing Estella’s birth records. She discovers that the Baroness is her biological mother; unable to love due to her narcissistic nature, she ordered John to have the infant Estella killed so she could focus on her career. John instead gave the baby to Catherine, one of the Baroness’ maids, who raised Estella in secret. Estella is angered by Catherine’s deception but eventually makes peace with the truth, announcing her intention to ruin the Baroness and declaring that Estella is no more; her name is now Cruella.
Cruella breaks Jasper and Horace out of jail, recruiting them for her final scheme. They sneak into the Baroness’ charity gala, where Cruella (dressed as Estella) reveals to the Baroness that she is her abandoned daughter. The Baroness pretends to accept Cruella and asks to hug her before pushing her over a cliff, unaware her guests had been led outside and witnessed the event. Cruella survives the fall using a parachute built into her clothing and discards her Estella disguise before returning to witness the Baroness being arrested. Having adopted the last name de Vil (inspired by her stolen Panther De Ville), she acquires Hellman Hall (shortening it to Hell Hall), having secretly transferred the Baroness’ fortune to herself by using Estella’s name.
In a mid-credits scene, Cruella delivers two Dalmatian puppies (children of one of the Baroness’ Dalmatians) named Pongo and Perditato Roger and Anita, respectively. Now working as a songwriter, Roger begins composing the song “Cruella de Vil.”
Cruella really held up its own. Honestly a fantastic film. The music was an interesting choice, it used hits from the 60s and 70s but despite most being lyrical, which isn’t as common in films, they made it work in such a way that was truly realistic. I mean who doesn’t end up singing along to music while working, or just hearing your favorite songs. We all do it at one point. Anyway, Cruella also showcases the couture of the era which was really interesting. It is focused on Estella’s aka Cruella’s background and her point of view but of course it must tie in to the original story line of 101 Dalmatians. While it worked with the after credits, it still wasn’t fully clear where her intentions lay/change by 101 Dalmatians. So there may very well be a sequel, just like Maleficent. Now its appropriate for kids in terms of it is no worse than any Disney animated film, however it is slow moving for a live action and may bore younger kids. That being said no dogs were harmed in the making of this video.
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