The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
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Starring Meryl Streep opposite Anne Hathaway, "The Devil Wears Prada" is loosely based on the book by the same name, and was billed as a funny-but-edgy insider's look into the cutthroat world of fashion. Instead, it is a fairly pedestrian teen movie, built along the lines of "She's All That" or its million predecessors, where the plain Jane girl gets a makeover and all her dreams come true. Or something.
Because the message itself gets a little lost here. Ostensibly, this movie is supposed to tell us that the world of fashion is evil, superficial, full of back-stabbers and snotty "clackers", and utterly devoid of any true meaning or purpose. But simultaneously, it tries to elevate fashion to a worthy pursuit on the same level as, say, curing AIDS or fighting world poverty. In trying to at once pay homage to and dissect the fashion world, the movie succeeds at neither.
Much has been said about the acting, namely, Meryl Streep's portrayal of her character. And while I agree that her deliberately understated performance elevated this movie to something beyond "disaster", I'd hardly give her lavish praise. Simply put, she's not nearly "devilish" enough. She's tough and, at first, snarky, but we never truly believe that she's evil. Driven, yes. Willing to step over people to get what she wants, sure. But evil?
In fact, nobody is quite mean enough here. Emily Blunt's character is snooty but ultimately likable, and Stanley Tucci plays the kind of "gal pal" every girl wishes she had. For a supposedly cutthroat world, people are falling all over themselves to help each other out. So much for the Devil.
And Anne Hathaway is charming and all, but she is just horribly miscast as the ugly duckling. She's a gorgeous girl who looks like a fashion model wearing the designer clothing she struts around in most of the movie, but she looked stunning even before that "makeover" and the suggested message was that the world of fashion has ridiculous, unrealistic standards.
That said, the movie never really passes enough judgment on these standards. When her success at work leads her to drive away those closest to her, the movie portrays her in a sympathetic light, and her boyfriend and her friends are portrayed as simply jealous, as opposed to as real people who love her for who she is and not for what she wears. When Hathaway's character proudly boasts that she's dropped from a size 6 to a size 4, it's done in such a way to make viewers believe that this is actually a good thing! Far from inspiring people to do the right thing, I fear all this movie will inspire is an epidemic of anorexia among young girls.
In the world of The Devil Wears Prada, there are no consequences, no shame, and no sore feet from running around town all day wearing ridiculous shoes. The plot is utterly ridiculous, including such impossible situations as Hathaway's character obtaining the (not yet written) manuscript to the seventh Harry Potter book. Can we at least stick to something with some semblance of reality here, people?
Salma Hayek's adaptation of "Betty La Fea" as "Ugly Betty", starring America Ferrera, takes the same concept and does it quite a bit better, to tell the truth. I'd give this a skip and try watching the TV series instead; whatever its faults, at least it has a bit more heart than this mess.
Maybe I liked it because of two things I had in common with Andy: first, I have had the experience of starting a new job with only the vaguest idea of what I was supposed to do (and how to do it) and finding that everyone expected me to perform competently, without any training or help, right away. Second, I have had a boss (female) who was so difficult to please and so willing to tell her underlings how stupid they were that several quit without even waiting until they could find other jobs. In other words, I could really relate to Andy's situation. Stuff like that actually does happen in the real world. Perhaps, that is the reason that I was possibly the only person in the theater who was hoping Andy would not make the choice she made.
One thing that Miranda Priestley (Merryl Streep) had going that my Boss From Hell did not was class. It would have been very easy to create Miranda as a monster, but, wisely and skillfully, Merryl Streep allowed her to have a dignity and intelligence that made her seem to be demanding but not sadistic.
Stanley Tucci is superb as Nigel, the ambitious, hard working man who dreams of having a position of power like Miranda's some day.
"The Devil Wears Prada" is a very funny movie that is not as far divorced from the real world as, I believe, the producers of this movie may have thought.
In addition to the public's clamoring to glimpse these powerful elites, another segment of the population desires to become one of these people by trying to "break into" the media business. Since there are many more people who dream of being in these circles than there are spots available, this gives enormous power to those already on the inside, particularly those who have sway to either make or break an up-and-coming career. "The Devil Wears Prada" chronicles an aspiring journalist who lands a dream job that, she is told, "thousands would kill for": being the personal assistant to the editor of one of the largest fashion magazines, Runway, whose editor-in-chief makes Bill Gates seem like a softy. The character, Miranda Priestly (played by Meryl Streep in a tour-de-force Oscar-nominated performance) is in fact modeled after real-life Vogue Magazine editor Anna Wintour whose chilling detachment from those around her, her ability to make or break fashion careers, and her cut-throat demands on her staff have become legendary throughout the fashion world.
In the film, the corporation that is "Runway" is no democracy. It is feudalism, with Mirander the absolute queen ruling over her dominion of serfs who constantly scatter about trying to please her. The central character, Andy Sachs, is plunged into this Madison Avenue purgatory without knowing the rules of the game. A journalism-major from Northwestern, Andy knows next to nothing about the fashion world, but it's not just the fashion world--it's the world of the elite in New York. Since everyone wants to gain favor from the higher-ups in order to step up the ladder, there's often over-the-top deference to those in elite positions. I half-expected her female assistants to curtsy when Mirander entered the office. Mirander knows perfectly-well her status and she uses it, often flaunts it, to her advantage. Her staff run around like castle servants anticipating the arrival of the Lady of the Manor.
Streep is magnificent as her voice never reaches past mezzo-piano. When one of her staff has transgressed, or simply cannot fulfill her expectation (I doubt Superman could hold a job there), in the softest tone possible she expresses her disappointment. And yet, the anticipation of her negative reaction is what makes for moments of anti-gravitational intensity. Of course, she never compliments anyone when they've done well. Excellent performance is taken for granted in this kingdom. I've never found the raging tyrant frightening. Rather, it is the even-tempered soft-spoken empress with absolute power who sends anyone who to displeases her to the block with a disinterested wave of the figure that is the most terrifying.
At one point in the film, Andy chuckles when Miranda fusses over some seemingly identical-looking belts which of course spawns a lecture about how Andy's current wardrobe was in fact created by the fashion elite. This does point to another side of the fashion facade which I think may be the point of the film. If you take away the cameras, the celebrities, the allure, the models posing in museums wearing the latest by Christian Dior, at the end of the day all this is about is just jackets, belts, purses, skirts, dresses, and pants. I think one of the characters says as much. These clothes may look wonderful, even stunning, but that's all they are. They are lifeless pieces of fabric cut in a certain way to make the wearer look appealing but that's all it is. The fashion industry of course needs to perpetuate the idea that clothing is much more than clothing: that beautiful fashions will create fairy-tale existences for the purchasers. They are meant to represent a life of luxury and splendor and the purchase of these articles will bring you closer to that reality. When it doesn't, you need to buy more of these clothes. And you need to read Runway (aka Vogue) to tell you what you should buy. Of course, the only ones who actually have these fairy tale existences are the ones providing the clothes. Most of the people buying these fashions are still behind the barricade. Is there an irony here?
I'm sure you're all familiar with the basic premise - naive small-town girl comes to the big city hoping to be a journalist, and gets a job as assistant to Miranda Priestly, the much-feared editor of 'Runway' magazine (a thinly veiled take on 'Vogue' magazine, and its editor). Thankfully, the cast was almost perfect (though I did think Simon Baker was somewhat miscast at the rakish writer who takes a liking to the protagonist, Andrea), and elevated the movie to a level it would not have otherwise reached.
Meryl Streep is absolutely amazing as Miranda Priestly, and I especially liked the way that, as Miranda, she never raised her voice above normal speaking level. Streep has said she based this mannerism on Clint Eastwood, who as Dirty Harry talks very quietly but still intimidates. This made Miranda much more interesting than the stereotypical, screaming gorgon she could have become. She is certainly the best thing about this movie, and I think the odds are good that she'll score a best-actress nod at the next Oscars. Miranda is also made more complex (and slightly more sympathetic) than in the book, which I thought was very good. In the book, which I recently read, the author (who actually worked as an assistant to 'Vogue' editor Anna Wintour) was very bitter and whiny about the difficulties of her former job, and she made Miranda out to be a totally two-dimensional villain with absolutely no redeeming qualities. However, the movie shows us (briefly) a different side of Miranda - we see the compromises she has had to make to get to the top, and we see the toll this has taken on her personal life. We aren't made to agree with her diva-like behaviour, but we can understand how hard her life must be.
I also thought that Anne Hathaway was very appealing in her role - she made Andrea more likable and less snobbish than she was in the book (although the screenwriter deserves credit for that, as well), and she looked great in the couture she wore through most of the movie.
The supporting players were also very good, especially Emily Blunt (as Andrea's caustic fellow assistant, Emily) and Stanley Tucci (as Miranda's loyal but beleaguered right-hand man, Nigel). On many occasions, they stole scenes from the ostensibly 'central' character of Andrea.
The movie, while maintaining the book's premise, does not follow the book too closely, which I liked. The entire 'Lily' subplot from the book is eliminated (readers of the book will know what I mean), and Andrea's parents and boyfriend are less significant in the movie than in the book. I agreed with these changes, though - I found those aspects of the book to be quite boring, and their omission made for a more streamlined movie.
I strongly recommend this movie to virtually anyone, and I just hope "The Nanny Diaries" (another somewhat-similar 'chick lit' movie adaptation, coming out soon with Scarlett Johannson, that I am eagerly awaiting) lives up to the shining example of this excellent movie.
Let's see, it goes something like this; basically decent, idealistic, young (man/woman) goes to (New York/Chicago/Los Angeles/D.C.) to make his/her mark in (writing/business/music/acting/government) only to be temporarily seduced by the very environment/person they are the antithesis of, alienating his/her(boyfriend/girlfriend/family/friends/all of the above) in the process until he/she stumbles on to the revelation, "To thine own self be true." Devil is all of this. . . again. Only the trendy names being dropped have been updated for those who find that sort of thing significant enough to make them believe this is somehow a different story.
The characters, as written, are equally as plugged-in and predictable. The film is only watchable because of the efforts of three actors. Streep is superb -- as always -- as Miranda Priestly, the self-absorbed, career-obsessed and patently unpleasant publishing mogul. Every incredulous look and pursed lip is right on the mark. She is not however, showing us anything we haven't been shown before either about her acting or about women at the top. Even Miranda's obligatory "vulnerability scene" is thin and comes too late in the film to matter. By the time we witness what angst she is capable of, we really don't care. We are left with less a feeling of empathy than a sense of justice. (If you want to see her be truly chilling and ruthless, check out the remake of Mancherian Candidate.)
Likewise, Emily Blunt, as Miranda's first assistant, does a wonderful job as an insecure, over compensating slave to someone else's expectation. Her portrayal is cattily on target and provides the requisite foil to our heroine's wide-eyed innocence. Performance-wise this is commendable, but it leaves the audience with next to nothing to like about her character. The dilemma here is that the film presents her (as well as the character of Miranda) in such a way that we have this nagging feeling maybe we are supposed to like her in some way and yet, we don't. This creates even more of a dilemma later on when Andrea our supposedly intelligent, perceptive and grounded protagonist, played forgettably by Anne Hathaway-- makes attempts to befriend these two soulless women. Many are left to perceive her gestures as a weak and irritating need to be liked rather than any real nobility of character.
The one true bright spot of the film is Stanley Tucci, as Nigel, who once again seems to infuse a refreshing dimension and humanity to a character that was probably not written that way. He continues to amaze.
Cinematically, The Devil was a small-screen script seemingly shot for the small screen. It no doubt will look stunning when it reaches HBO to be embraced by all those starving fans of Sex in the City and many others who believe that haute couture must surely be the apex of man's cultural accomplishments and that watching insensitive, catty women snipe at each other is actually entertaining.
Billed as a "comedy/drama," the film was never very touching and only mildly amusing. There were no new insights or honest laughs -- the kind you share with friends about the mutually-experienced absurdities of life. No. The audience responses were more like those sophisticated, obligatory snickers that you exchange over lattes with people you don't really know that well -- and are reasonably certain you wouldn't want to spend time with again.
Fortunately, director David Frankel has come along well since his 1995 Woody Allen knockoff, the irritatingly unctuous "Miami Rhapsody", and one can see his progression in his smart work on episodes of "Sex in the City" and "Entourage". He moves the film at such a sharp, fast clip that it feels like an accurately frenzied portrayal of the inner workings of the world of haute couture. The one-line zingers also come fast and furious thanks to Aline Brosh McKenna's deep-dish script based on Lauren Weisberger's best-selling novel, but the vitriol does not come at the expense of character development and a shrewdly observed storyline about all-or-nothing careers when working for media royals and courtiers.
The plot's protagonist is not Priestly but Andy Sachs, a young idealist and aspiring journalist who just graduated from Northwestern. Even though she has no interest in fashion, she lands an interview at Runway. Because she is not a typically bootlicking, anorexic fashionista toady, Priestly hires her as her second assistant. It becomes a nightmarish trial by fire, as Andy slowly earns the trust of Priestly much to the chagrin of the haughty first assistant Emily. And despite the derision of her circle of friends, including her live-in boyfriend, Sachs starts to respect Priestly's style and power, which leads to the decision to have Andy go to Paris for Fashion Week. Further complications ensue when a hotshot writer takes an interest in her and a power struggle erupts at Runway.
It really takes someone of Streep's caliber to pull off the impossible character of Priestly because when she does have a moment of vulnerability, it resonates so much more than it should. Although she is far too pretty to be considered frumpy by anyone's standards, the naturally likable Anne Hathaway plays Sachs serviceably and looks sensational in a series of Chanel outfits. She brings the necessary heart to the story, even though the character arc is rather predictable. It does seem a shame that we are supposed to cheer the character's reduction from size 6 to 4, but that is probably as accurate as anything else in the film.
There is terrific work from the reliable Stanley Tucci as Nigel, Runway's no-nonsense fashion director, especially as he patiently works under Priestly's shadow and gives Sachs hard-to-take survival advice, and from Emily Blunt, who plays first assistant Emily with the ideal combination of vitriol and desperation. Overly metrosexualized with the strangest blond eyebrows I have ever seen, Simon Baker lends an appropriately smarmy edge to his writer Christian Thompson. Far less interesting are Sachs' judgmental friends, in particular Adrian Granier as Sachs' sous-chef boyfriend and Tracie Thoms as art gallery owner Lilly. The ending is inevitable, but it moves in a creative way that makes neither Sachs overly heroic nor Priestly absolutely villainous. This is solid entertainment elevated by the artistry of Streep.
And she gets accused of doing to Emily what Priestly does to Tucci's character, but that's so clearly not the case. Why should Andy or anyone else sacrifice their promotion for co-workers that never made any effort to be nice to them in the first place? Ideally promotions are awarded meritocratically and why shouldn't we believe that Andy is just as qualified and deserving of her new responsibilities as Emily? Because she wasn't there as long? That's retarded people! The real world doesn't operate this way. When was the last time you gave up a promotion for some co-worker who was an asshole to you and didn't necessarily do her job as well? The basic message of this movie is that you shouldn't be ambitious, because if you are you will be punished by your friends and family--is this women really need to hear more of this bullshit? You're suppose to presume that had Andy completed her year there she would have set herself permanently on the path to crazed careerism which led to Miranda's second divorce. Oh, everyone at Runway is so unhappy. It's not worth it to be at the top of your field in fashion. I mean, it's absurd.
Oh, and sous chef boyfriend at one point declares how they should stop pretending that he and Andy have anything in common anymore. Oh my God. You obviously had precious little in common in the first place if girlfriend + an unusually stressful year of work is enough to eviscerate all that you used to have in common. In the real world, partners go through periods when they become absorbed by intense spells and relationships survive, because in good relationships partners support the long-term goals of their sig others. How do you think doctors complete their residencies with their relationships in tact? The gratuitous fashion montages were fantastic, but Anne Hathaway is a less than formidable talent that works best when she's posing all Brunette Barbie style. I actually walked out after Andy threw her cell phone in the fountain. I figured there wouldn't be anymore eye candy post-Runway and I'd have to sit through some predictable reconciliation scene where she's apologizing to her boyfriend for having had the misguided notion that the people who loved her might enjoy watching her succeed.
And it's just a stale, middle-of-the-road mainstream feature in a multitude of other dimensions. Save for Meryl Streep's white hot performance this movie sucks. View this movie only to witness a blatant example of how society wants to sabotage women's economic success.
Sadly, it's becoming difficult to find 'orginality' in film year after year, so when you have something that is the same as something else, you've gotta do the best you can to entertain at $10 plus a ticket, $4.99 a rental. I did have the mind set that I was going to watch a theme that I had seen before. What I did not expect was that I was watching a theme I had seen before from several films that were also "so-so" to snoozers. It was the re-hashing of already cooked hash that wasn't good when it was new.
Maybe it's the "fashion industry". Sounds like a good thing to bash since it seems pretty glamorous, treats women like objects and "walking hangers just to see how the fabric of THEIR design flows" and very cut throat so based on that, it should make an interesting, through provoking story. But from many of the films I've seen try to "expose" that industry, they've been "okay" to down right "boring". This one is one of the REALLY boring ones.
The story is the same: fish outa water girl (Anne Hathaway who's 98% of films she has done is playing this same type of role) gets job with total female tyrant over 40-year old boss (And these women have GOT to look as old as heck, fashionable but OLD - a trick from "Valley of the Dolls") (Meryl Steep) who treats her like a slave, she gets in with a male gay who 'secretly' helps her dress and 'play the game', she weighs her life against the work life, meets some guy her twice her age and a guy her age (pick any young actor of the moment and throw him in here) continues to question which one to bed/have, realizes she's a slave, tries to overcome tyrant female boss, the industry and herself to realize she's better than what she's doing. Throw in a few fashionatas,(top models, runway showing, magazine covers, camera hungry Eurpean designers people watching can point at and say, "Isn't that so and so? Wow!" some nice clothes for this time, a somewhat shallow "I'm being used" ploy and you've got "The Devil Wears Prada" and 25 other films before it - except you used the name of a top line of fashion design to make it more ... sexy.
What also bothered me about this film is that I caught on early that no one spoke over one line sentences and formed words over seven letters long. But ... everybody looked good, the women traded simplistic "cat fight" snarls, and everyone fit into their stereo-typical part nicely - so I guess that makes it a blockbuster film.
"Blockbusters" aren't like as they used to be, I guess. If you're looking for a little depth skip this, if your looking for meaningless time to kill with folks wearing nice clothes and conversing in short cliché sentences with no thought process behind them, and you like knowing what sentence and scene is coming next, this may be your kinda film.
The only character in the movie with any semblance to a real human being was Andy's father -- at least he expressed some genuine love and interest for somebody!? All others were unbelievably shallow, fake, vain, cruel, indifferent, snarkey, smarmy, etc., etc., etc., ... They tried all too hard to impress everybody, and wound up impressing nobody. Real Hollywood types!
Why the moguls in Hollywood would think the average movie patron would be interested in such despicable people is a total mystery? Why would they think the main character would be even remotely sympathetic to us all when she displayed her disdain for the "evil, vain" fashion publishing industry buy quitting to get away from all the phonies, only to take a job with a phony left-wing fraudulent "newspaper" where she supposed she could "do real work?" and shack up with a phony, shallow "sous chef" boyfriend. Don't any of these people have real lives, children, families? In a way, it's kind of sad.
What a waste of time. Uhggggg!
Why does aspiring serious 'writer' Andy, with her cool Bo-Ho credentials, stick around in the nauseating world of 'Runway' for so long? Okay, so she landed the job that 'a million girls would kill for', but the inevitable moral crisis for someone as principled as Andy is never satisfactorily explored. She's blatantly seduced by it, but we never get to understand any of the tension her character feels, or why she's the one we're meant to root for. Okay, I get that it's a comedy, but does Andy have to be such a vacuum? Oooh, nice freebies, and shooze!! Her cypher boyfriend seems to be there to continually remind us what we should all be thinking about her. Anyway, she chucks it all in on a whim at the end, seemingly to keep her lug of a boyfriend (to whom she has just been spectacularly unfaithful) happy.. ah, the fate of modern girls in modern cinema, doomed never to be truly free of a man's control.
Its (trite, superficial) 'fashion' appeal, and (relentlessly charmless) cast has garnered it some wincingly favourable reviews in the Fash Mags, but great title and the casting against type of Meryl Streep aside, this undercooked movie deserves to be quietly forgotten. Truly Awful.
"The Devil Wears Prada" is a sort of dramatic comedy, with magnificent performances and a great final message. Meryl Streep is fabulous as usual in the role of a cruel bitch; Anne Hathaway is excellent and very beautiful performing the naive and sweet Andrea, a girl who sells her soul to the devil, but returns to her origins and principle; and Emily Blunt is also great, in the role of the caustic and jealous colleague of Andrea. The elegant and sophisticated locations in Paris and New York are nice, and the music score presents many hits. The story is never corny and I really liked this movie. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "O Diabo Veste Prada" ("The Devil Wears Prada")
It's the story of a young girl who moves to NYC to become a journalist but finds herself working as an assistant for a top notch fashion magazine, which is way out of her style league. The girl is a go-getter so she does what she has to do to make it work and ends up becoming the right hand (wo)man to the editor and chief changing her life (for better or worse) forever.
The movie is definitely a feel-good and has you leaving the theater with a smile and a bit more confidence in your walk. I absolutely recommend it and apologize for not giving more details, but it's too good and I don't want to ruin it for anyone!
Also, for you guys... a lot of males were at the special showing and I heard a few say they surprisingly liked it (including one of my "macho" guy friends) so if you're looking for a nice date or a surprise for your loved one, it's a good pick!
The movie stars Anne Hathaway, a writer who winds up applying for, and getting the second assistant position to the Editor-in-Chief of THE fashion magazine called "Runway." Her boss is played by the always fantastic Meryl Streep. While she gets less screen time in the movie, her mean looks and bitchy attitude makes her character stick with you. Also, the movie does give you some soft moments to make her a little more sympathetic than she was portrayed in the novel (or so my friend told me). I do wonder whether or not this movie would've worked if Meryl's character was male instead of female.
I won't bore you with the other plot details because it was actually fun to not know how it unravels. Without the novel to go by, it was fun to figure out what bad thing was going to happen to her next. I do have to say that the movie has achieved the balance of being cute but not corny. You also get to understand why she just takes it all instead of just quitting to begin with. It's funny enough to make you laugh out loud, but more importantly, it's a great film to escape to. Hey, at least for the majority of us, we can come out of the theater and say, "At least my boss isn't like that."
When Andy has become comfortable in her new job, she is handing out gifts to all her friends, and they love it. Then all of a sudden, for no reason we ever see, they complain that she "isn't the same old Andy." Just because she is working hard? We never see any evidence of her being anyone different than she was at the beginning. She misses her boyfriend's birthday party because she had to work late? That doesn't mean she's a bad person. And she shows that she's sorry in a very sweet way. But I guess we're supposed to hate her now.
Then one of her girlfriends sees this high-power writer guy make a pass at her, which she quickly snubs. But the friend acts like Andy was into it, reminds her about her boyfriend, and walks off in a huff. It makes no sense--Andy clearly was not into the guy, but her friend acts like she was. Then the way Andy just completely disses Miranda at the end, after they have come to mean something to each other, would have only made sense in the middle of the movie. Here, it comes off as just a convenient--but illogical--way to end the show. Then boyfriend Nate takes her back, despite the fact that they have two new jobs in two different cities; how they are going to stay together isn't even brought up.
Speaking of Nate, he seems like an understanding, regular guy, the kind who would support his girlfriend in whatever she wanted to do. Working like hell in your first job in New York City? It's an incredible opportunity; no way would his character suddenly decide that her career was more important than him. Of course, it probably was just a plot device to make it okay for Andy to fool around with that writer without any guilt, and this tete-a-tete sets up a twist near the end.
This movie seems to want to be an insider's look at the rough-and-tumble world of fashion; I found it unbelievable. Not that I don't believe you have to work for demanding bosses and cut down the number of personal hours in your life; but to think that your friends would abandon you because you're pursuing a dream doesn't ring true. And there is the crux of the problem: are we supposed to be angry with Andy, or Miranda, or the seemingly inhuman fashion world? We're never given a consistent sense of who's the villain here.
In the end, the most unbelievable thing for me about this movie was how Andy was deemed "fat" by the fashion world. Come on; nobody would ever consider Anne Hathaway fat; not even the Devil.
Or, put another way, it's essentially "The Princess Diaries" with much, much, muuuuuuuuuch better dialog and a slightly more sophisticated and dramatic story arc.
So while older audiences may feel the film is a bit formulaic, the hysterical, but occasional cruel, one-liners and zingers hurled at Anne Hathaway's Andy are sure to keep them entertained. Stanley Tucci and Emily Blunt get most of the barbs, and Blunt in particular is fantastic in the film.
Tucci and Meryl Streep, however, get to make the most provocative and stirring speeches in the film, and they deliver. Hathaway capably carried the movie, perhaps overacting, but she makes it work. Streep proves again that she's a gifted comedian. Emily Blunt, as Emily, is pitch perfect, and her performance here gives beautiful irony to her given name.
The film is just too long, however, primarily because the director feels obliged to explain everything -- every plot point is rendered obviously and painfully clear, and nothing left open for interpretation. That said, we're spared the "perfect ending" and left with a heroine who can truly stand on her own two feet, and in any shoes she might desire.
But not in this movie. In this movie, women are obsessed with their exteriors in the mirror and with a bunch of goofy-looking clothes which, when they see themselves photographed in them fifteen years down the road will look as ludicrous as disco fashions look to us. They are permanently damaging their leg tendons from wearing high heels. They celebrate anorexia. This is a depiction of a slice of the real world, of course. While it is possible that most of these women are not smart enough to do science or engineering or real work, surely some of them are and it's a sad waste of human resources that they spend their time in this oppressive and oppressing career.
To a large degree, this movie celebrates this waste. Although our protagonist, at the end, leaves the fashion industry to do real journalism, the movie-makers obviously adore the fashion industry and do not lampoon it at all. They take it as serious as the ludicrous, misogynist 'devils' in the industry take it. For me, watching this is like watching a movie about faith healing that takes it deadly seriously. What a bunch of idiots thinks about some delusion is interesting only if the filmmakers and audience are also aware that it is delusion.
Certainly the film is workmanlike in technique. There are no shadows from boom mikes or inaudible dialog. And yes, Meryl Streep is fine as the understated boss from hell. But if this is the best Hollywood can do offering "strong female roles," that's just tragic for us all.
The first is to see it as an example of how easy it is for people to lose their integrity when they land in a bad environment, and how wrong it is for bosses to treat their employees poorly. In this version of the story, Andy (the Anne Hathaway character) reluctantly takes a job as assistant to the editor of a prominent fashion magazine even though she wants to be a serious journalist. As time goes on, she forgets what is important in life--for example, she misses her boyfriend's birthday party because she has to work late, puts up with the unreasonable demands of her tyrannical boss at any hour of day or night, starts to enjoy the shallow pursuit of dressing well, loses her sense of humor, betrays her boyfriend by flirting with an attractive writer at a party, and agrees to her boss's request that she replace her co-assistant on a trip to Paris even though her colleague has been dreaming of the trip for months. The magazine editor (Meryl Streep) in this version is a cold, self-absorbed and calculating boss-from-hell who enjoys tormenting the people who work for her and cares only about outer beauty. In the end of this story, Andy regains her principles, summons up the courage to quit her horrid job at the meaningless fashion magazine, goes to work for a newspaper where she can make a difference in the world, gives away her couture outfits and goes back to not paying an overly large amount of attention to how she looks, and demonstrates in various ways that she once again cares about other people.
In the other story, the Meryl Streep character is an extremely talented fashion editor who is under tremendous pressure to make her magazine successful artistically and commercially. She is obsessive about her work because she cares about it and because she knows that she must do it extremely well in order to keep her position. She feels that her work is meaningful because it holds up an entire economic industry that includes mainstream as well as couture clothing and because (since fashion is fun when it's done well) it helps people of all sorts to enjoy life more. She believes that no one can do her job as well as she can, and she probably is right. She puts a huge amount of time into her job (losing two husbands and missing out on important times with her daughters as a result), and demands that the people who work for her show at least a fraction of her own dedication to their jobs as well as help to make her life a little easier. Because she is perfectionistic and under time pressure, she expects the people around her to be ultra- competent at all times and throws out chilly little comments when she feels her employees are not doing a good job or (especially) wasting her extremely precious time. She knows how business works as well as how to use her power in order to get what she needs in order to create a high-quality magazine and (in a cut-throat business) keep her job. At one point she hurts her most valued employee in order to keep herself from being fired, but (since she is shown helping people she thinks are talented even when it is not to her own benefit) it seems likely that she will help him to obtain other opportunities in the future. She is aware that the people who work for her are scared to death of her and that her general reputation is that of an icy terror, but she can't figure out how to do her job well plus have people like her. She also fails at all attempts to explain to other people why she acts as she does. After Andy (whom she thinks of as her protégé) quits, she is disappointed that the promising young woman decided to opt out of a career in the fashion business. Nonetheless, she is impressed and pleased that Andy is successfully seeking out her own chosen path in life, and helps her to do so by giving her a stellar letter of recommendation. In this reading of the story, the magazine editor is a tragic character of classic dimensions, in that she is not able to sustain relationships or obtain understanding from people around her while exercising her substantial professional and creative gifts.
Which reading of the movie is "correct"? The one you choose probably has a lot to do with your life experiences and the way in which you see the world. Either could be right.
Only really great texts can be read in such totally disparate ways and argued forever with no firm conclusion ever reached. The fact that this characteristic is buried in what seems on the surface to be merely a light (and very funny) mainstream summer comedy makes its presence even more impressive.
As a side note, the original novel presented only the first reading (at least unless one looks extremely intently between the lines). The people responsible for adding the second reading (Meryl Streep, the screenwriter, the director, whoever) deserve more than Oscars. A brilliant work all around.
Meryl Streep is brilliant. Without a doubt, she delivers the first Oscar-worthy performance of the year. Streep remains calm and cold throughout the entire film. She also manages to humanize Miranda. Her subtle brilliance is captivating, and one cant help but feel honored to watch her work!
Anne Hathaway delivers a charming performance that is incredibly likable. Despite being the main character, she is completely upstaged by Streep and Tucci.
Stanely Tucci is the definition of a scene stealer in "Prada". He comes off as a catty, yet sweet, "fairy godmother" figure. If the Academy decides to give comedies some love, expect Tucci and Streep to make the cut.
Emily Blunt also adds some laughs to "Prada".
This is the best comedy I've seen in a long time. By far, it is the best I've seen this year.
"The Devil Wears Prada" is everything that Miranda is: Smart, stylish, and catty!