Movie Review: Cruella (2021) - Welcome back to the movies, my friends!

I couldn't believe how many memories washed through me when I sat down in the movie theater last night for the first time in 14 months. Sitting in the large auditorium, drinking in the aromas of buttered popcorn and aged coke stains on the carpet, reminded me of the last movie I saw with my mum. It was Green Book at the Classic Cinema in Melbourne, and I remember the theater applauding at the end, which I unashamedly adore.

I was transported back to watching Moneyball with her at an old theater in Buenos Aires and further back to watching Superbad at Village Cinemas in Southland. Years later, I would work there as a theater manager. I haven't seen her in over a year and a half because, you know, lockdown, and the Australian Government making it extremely difficult financially (and most recently impossible) for citizens to return to their home country. But being in the movie theater lessened the challenges of accumulating separation and time. I thought about what movie would be released when we reunite, and I could bite my tongue as she audibly claps her hands together to brush the popcorn and salt of during the film's quietest moments.

I might've had a spiritual experience, and not even the giggling teenagers sitting in the top left corner of the theater, who turned on their iPhone light at about the halfway mark, could stain the experience. In fact, they probably added to it, reminding me to sit in the front section closest to the screen for complete immersion and detachment from the movie-talker species. I didn't check my phone; there were no thoughts about the new week or apartment hunting. It was just sound and sight, the screen and me, and my boyfriend stealing all the candy.

Oh yes, we saw Cruella, a lavish Disney production set in 70's London during the punk rock revolution. The film follows young Estrella (soon to be Cruella), who's determined to make a name for herself with her fashion creations, and played brilliantly by Emma Stone. Emma Thompson also stars as Cruella's vicious and egotistical boss.

Director Craig Gillespie continues his love of music against long tracking shots, finding a way to make the most use of each beat and crescendo in the song. The costume designs are sumptuous, and the production creation of 1970's London evokes the influence of punk within conservative institutions.

Running at just over two hours long, Cruella does lose some pacing in the latter half, but the film is a reminder that Live-Action Disney films are an absolute spectacle.

Welcome back to the movies!