This image released by Disney shows Paul Walter Hauser, left to right, Emma Stone and Joel Fry in a scene from “Cruella”. (Disney via AP)

We’re not even halfway through the origin story of the Disney villain “Cruella” when all is clear: if this movie DOES NOT win the Oscars for Best Makeup and Hairstyle and Best Costume Design, I can’t wait to see what beats him.

Though too long and at times too embarrassed in his quest for vintage hipster status, “Cruella” is a visual feast, from the dizzying array of outfits designed and worn by Emma Stone’s Estella / Cruella, to a striking make-up from Emma Stone. glam inspiration. to dazzling sets with dozens of extras wearing amazing outfits. Reynolds Woodcock of “Phantom Thread” would faint from the overwhelming number of scenes involving fashion design, fashion design talks, more fashion design – and the pop-up fashion events taking place at events from traditional fashion. This is a VERY trendy movie.

This image released by Disney shows Emma Thompson in a scene from “Cruella”. (Disney via AP)

It’s also funny and ridiculous and dark and twisty at times, clocking in at 2 hours and 14 minutes when around 110 minutes could have been better suited. Especially in the last half hour, events are taken to extremes and we hear presentations when we do not need further clarification. Still, talented director Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl,” “Me, Tonya”) delivered a clever and devilishly offbeat story with suitably over-the-top and hugely entertaining performances of Emma Stone as the main character and Emma. Thompson as her nemesis, who is so carelessly cruel (sort of), so cold and cunning, she makes Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” the appearance of Employer of the Year.

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“Cruella” takes us back to the arrival of a newborn baby named Estella who has a curious lock of hair – half black, half white – and a fondness for the actor. When her mother, Catherine (Emily Beecham), drops off 12-year-old Estella (played by Tipper Seifert-Cleveland) on her first day at a new school, she warns Estella not to let the “Cruella” side of her personality go. best of her – but Estella’s efforts to play nicely don’t last on day one, as she is frequently bullied, and she fights with revenge.

After an unspeakable tragedy leaves Estella all alone with only her trusty dog ​​Buddy by her side, the girl finds herself in London, where she teams up with a couple of Dickensian orphans named Jasper (Ziggy Gardner) and Horace (Joseph MacDonald), who support themselves through pick-pocketing and petty theft. It’s a messy band, eh, govnah?

Cut to a decade later, and we’re right into the London swing of the 1970s, with Estella (now played by Emma Stone), Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) still the con artists and still the best of buddies. Estella clings to her dream of becoming a fashion designer, and she ends up landing a job for the legendary and legendary monstrous designer known as The Baroness (Emma Thompson), a demanding task master with three threatening Dalmatians constantly at hand. its ratings. Oooooh, she’s the worst, which makes the fun fantastic.

“Cruella” often has the beats of a musical, with director Gillespie directing one elaborate comedy / action sequence after another, accompanied by a list of Billboard pop and rock songs, from Rolling’s “She’s a Rainbow” Stones to Nancy Sinatra’s “Ces Boots Were Made for Walkin ‘” to Rose Royce’s “Car Wash” to “Should I Stay or Should I Go” from The Clash. (There’s a sensational tracking shot, “Goodfellas,” set to “Time of the Season” by the Zombies.) The movie has the crazy tone and pop music vibe of Matthew Vaughn’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “Edgar Wright’s” Baby Driver, “and the The combined set of pop melodies and vivid visuals is entertaining as hell, although the gadget is about to exhaust its welcome.

Estella’s transition from an essentially sympathetic outsider to an ambitious, ruthless, borderline psychotic villain is rather abrupt – but that comes down to some plot developments we won’t reveal. Emma Stone seems to be having a lot of fun playing Estella, but it looks like she’s having the best time of her life playing the increasingly mean Cruella, who becomes an underground fashion design star in the West End with her bold vision and its eye-catching stunts. , even as she prepares her revenge against the baroness.

Stone and Thompson are magical together as they train verbally, while Joel Fry gives a winning performance as Jasper, who is clearly in love with Estella, and Paul Walter Hauser provides comedic relief as the hapless but loyal. Horace. Mark Strong is his usual reliable self as the Baroness’ longtime valet, who has a trick or two up his sleeve, while John McCrea is warm, funny and quick like Artie, who runs a cutting edge fashion store and has a look and style inspired by David Bowie.

A LOT happens in “Cruella”, and we haven’t talked much about the Dalmatians, who play a key role in the story – as they should. (There’s also a mid-credits scene that’s sure to delight anyone who remembers the 1961 animated version or the 1996 live-action narration of “101 Dalmatians.”)

Even though Cruella’s heart grows cold, we understand where she came from. The world can be cruel, and Cruella would tell you that she is simply adjusting to it.

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