Friday, June 30, 2006

Movie / The Devil Wears Prada

Comedy. Meryl Streep plays Miranda Priestly, the dictatorial editor of Runway Magazine (loosely based on Anna Wintour, the legendary editor of Vogue) against Anne Hathaway as her young, lovely, naive, underpaid, and overworked second assistant. The two of them carry the story with supporting cast (ably led by Stanley Tucci and Emily Blunt) and walk-ons by major designers. A must-see for anyone in the fashion or luxury goods industry.

See this same review on IMDB.

I found it highly entertaining, with numerous witty remarks, and the audience laughed with me. Andrea Sachs (Hathaway), a recent journalism graduate, shows up to interview for the personal assistant job having never heard of Ms. Priestly. (Already we are suspending disbelief. How many of you have never heard of Anna Wintour? Pity upon your souls!)

After endless demeaning remarks about her lack of fashion sense, the lovely Miss Hathaway learns to dress in dazzling, costly outfits (a lot of Chanel, and far beyond her pitiful salary). The wardrobe staff and consulting designers must have had fun creating these.

The "devil" moniker seems overdone. Priestly may be demanding, arbitrary, and cruel -- a true boss from hell -- but she is in no sense evil or unethical. She's a real person who does what she believes is right, her corporate maneuvering is relatively genteel, and her closet is bigger than many stores!

This film gets 5 out of 5 on acting, directing, production, and editing. Where it's weak is that the plot is milquetoast, really just a "slice of life" of Andrea's most interesting year, as seen through 23-year old eyes. And I felt the ending was a cop-out, wherein she throws it all away after showing herself to be a great master, on the verge of rapid promotion. Her social network should have supported her.

Rated PG-13, sexual situations, language, a few sexy outfits, a tad of kissing, and a non-fatal car accident.

= = = = =
2 days later. The LA Times notes that the film's world of fashion is somewhat unrealistic, since what is "in" now are pieces by less known designers.

The NY Times notes that the book is uniformly venomous towards Priestly (Wintour), while the film softens this by deleting/adding material and portraying her more sympathetically. Viewed in this light it seems almost Machiavellian to give the haughty Priestly to one of our greatest living actresses, Meryl Streep, and Andrea to the ingenue Hathaway, who has heretofore lived mainly on her looks. In an interview Hathaway said she felt upstaged, but learned much. This was a fiendishly clever casting decision, and one that must have the real Anna Wintour laughing with appreciation!

My next question is whether Hathaway will develop more depth and maturity behind her bland persona. I hope so, as her career has many years yet to run.


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