I’ve seen some folks online comparing this one to Joaquin Phoenix’s JOKER, and while I can’t say the two films are equal, there are parallels. And as did JOKER, and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE before it, CRUELLA managed to get under my skin. Not to the same degree, no, but again, there are parallels. What those three films have in common, one of the things, is the way they manage to push certain buttons inside of me that make me uncomfortable. Knowing the character is the villain, I find myself rooting for them, ruthlessly rooting for them. All throughout JOKER I kept wanting to see him snap. In A CLOCKWORK ORANGE we are shown upfront what a despicable, horrible individual Alex is, yet after he loses his ability to work mischief, I found myself desperately wanting to see him get it back. It’s nowhere near as intense with CRUELLA, but I did keep waiting to see the evil start to come out. That is the thing about these films that unsettles me. Evil is alluring. And these movies make me crave it. That makes me take a hard look at the capacity to commit evil that’s inside of me—and that makes me uncomfortable.
If a movie manages to push that kind of a button with me, it is a resounding success, and CRUELLA managed it. I am now in love with Cruella, the character. Not Emma Stone, but Cruella. Ms. Stone delivers a masterful performance, so much so that Cruella takes on a life of her own. And she had me wrapped around her little finger.