The Devil Wears Prada
Just about everybody has had a job where the boss is unbearable, someone who is overly demanding, exacting and usually completely devoid of any semblance to polite human discourse. If you encounter such a boss in a job where you are just passing through, you either grin and bear it for the money or find another job. More typically such a boss is one the first your first real break in the profession you have chosen as a career. In this case, you know that if you can put up with the horrible treatment, you might learn something valuable and succeed in your new career. ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ has taken this premise, added a touch of ‘Sex in the City’ and topped it off with just a hint of fashion week. Even as a male who has little concern for the rapidly changing world of fashion I could appreciate the inherent humor that this film projects.
Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) has always dreamed of being a journalist writing the kind of articles that garner awards and are well received by the literary community. When she is up for an apprenticeship at the famous glossy fashion magazine, Runway, Andy is sure she is on the fast track to realize her ambitions. Her position at the magazine is to be the assistant to the senior editor’s assistant. Andy is okay with starting at the bottom, but she was not prepared for just how hard those above her position would treat her during the workday.Andy’s immediate superior is Emily (Emily Blunt), who takes one look at Andy’s sensible outfit and brands her an outsider. Andy considered the fat girl even though she is only a size six. Know I had to ask my wife about this, and this is not considered a plus size anywhere except among the skin and bones world of modeling. Marilyn Monroe was a size 14, and very few men considered her fat. These disparaging comments are shared openly by the head editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) and the viscously catty art director, Nigel (Stanley Tucci). Devastated by such negative reactions Andy turns to her sous-chef boyfriend, Nate (Adrian Grenier) for comfort but he is unable or unwilling to understand exactly how this is affecting her. Back on the job Andy has to endure treatment that would have made the ninth circle of hell seem like a vacation. She is at the beck and call of Miranda for every demeaning task her demonic mind can think up. Although Andy was there to learn about editing a major publication, she winds up playing fetch with the boss and in one humiliating scene brushing Miranda’s perfect teeth. Desperate not to give in Andy turns to Nigel for help. He assures her that it is her image that is holding her back. After a trip to the coveted fashion racks of the magazine Andy is transformed from the dowdy duckling to the beautiful swan. This transformation also starts to spread to other areas of Andy’s life. She starts to see her live-in boyfriend as a man in dire need of grooming. With his uni-brow and perpetual stubble, he is not right for the new Andy. She starts to set her eyes a bit higher towards Christian Thompson (Simon Baker), an internationally renowned writer. The rest of the story is concerned with whether Andy will give up who she was to satisfy a demanding boss and get ahead in her career.
The film, based on the novel by Lauren Weisberger who used to work as an assistant to the editor of Vogue, Anna Wintour, known to all in the fashion world as a female version of Pol Pot. The reaction over at Vogue for this book or the film that followed was less than endearing. By all accounts, it’s because the story hits a little too close to the truth. While this film is targeted mainly to the young female demographic the men will be able to get something enjoyable out of it. Having to choose between what you are and what you want to be is universal to both genders. Andy has a chance to change her life and fulfill her dreams, but the cost may be losing her connection with her friends. In the case of the boyfriend, this may not be such a bad thing. He seems happy in their hovel of a Greenwich Village apartment. Andy wants more, not necessarily the world of thousand dollar shoes and thee thousand dollar handbags, but she wants to move up from where the currently is. Perhaps it is unfair that our appearance should judge us, but it is a fact of life, particularly if your profession is involved with the fashion world. It is unrealistic that Andy should have thought that she could work for the world’s most famous fashion magazine and not be expected to uphold a certain image. As it turns out, Miranda has a method for her horrible behavior. She ups the pressure on her assistants to separate the wheat from the chaff. Only those capable of rising above the pressure and unreliable demand is worthy of her time and training. Personally, I have had such a boss myself, and while the time with him was agony, I now can look back to see it was one of the most educational times of my life. For those who are into fashion, this is a wonderland. The film does have numerous high-end designers represented here. There is little surprise that the director, David Frankel, helmed several episodes of ‘Sex in the City’ and stylistically it shows. There is a slick, almost unreal feel to the way the women in this film react to high fashion. Frankel can temper this feminine direction with his natural talent as a director. He also directed episodes of other HBO hits such as ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘From the Earth to the Moon.' This variety in his background is certainly the reason why he was able to make a film that can appeal to both genders.
Whenever lists of the greatest actors are assembled the name, Meryl Streep is always well placed. She is, simply put, one of the best actresses ever. Recently Streep has been taking on some more comic roles as in ‘Prime’ and ‘A Prairie Home Companion.' What has made her great in drama translates over to comedy. She has the command of her role here; ale to sell her portrayal of the heartless Miranda. She gives enough dimensions to her role that when the motivation revealed at the end, the audience can accept it. With a couple of Oscars on her mantel, Streep can take on fun roles and not always worry about the next great nomination. Here is a woman who truly loves to ply her craft in all forms. Stanley Tucci has been a fantastic character actor for many years. He never fails to deliver the best possible performance, and his role here is no exception. Whatever role he takes on Tucci embodies the character giving every nuance possible. Here he gives Nigel the hard public edge a man would need in such a position tempered by a softer personal side. I have been impressed by Anne Hathaway for most of her short career. She burst on the scene with the 2001 Princess Dairies and continued in the young girl market with the sequel and Ella Enchanted. Recently, Hathaway has taken on more adult, and less costumed roles such as the horrible film ‘Havoc’ and the award-winning ‘Brokeback Mountain.' It’s good to see her stretch her acting wings with a more mature comedy as she does here. She is just fun to watch. Hathaway has an innate sense of comic timing and the ability to express the punch line with her beautiful face. She is very good in the more physical aspects of comedy as well.
Finally, this film has received the high-definition transfer it so richly deserves. Between Ms. Hathaway and Ms. Streep performing opposite each over this is an opportunity to observe one of the preeminent actresses of her generation and a representative of modern Hollywood.Both achieve a synergy that is a sheer delight to watch. Now, this Blu-ray release it is possible to appreciate visual and auditory nuances previously impossible to notice fully. Considering the primary venue of the story is the fashion industry being able to notice the texture of the fabric of the clothing brings you incredibly close to the world the character lives and works in.
Posted 11/24/06 Blu-ray 01/16/2016 10/02/2017