It would be safe to say that I represent the demographic that everyone involved with The Devil Wears Prada could care less about. I’m male, I’m twenty-four, I know nothing about fashion, and on top of that I find the industry to be a cancer on contemporary culture. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I half-heartedly limped into the screening room for The Devil Wears Prada, expecting to be not only bored, but pissed off.
Obviously I haven’t read Lauren Weisberger’s novel of the same name, but color me shocked to announce that the film is not only smart, but also surprisingly touching and more enjoyable than it has any right to be. Honestly, it takes some skill to craft a story around the queen broad of the universe and make it a treat to watch. The fate of stories like this hinge almost entirely on character development and quirks, and here it is done nearly to perfection.
We meet young Andy Sachs (Hathaway), fresh out of college with big dreams of a career in journalism. As film opens she is reporting to Runway Magazine for a job interview as an administrative assistant for Miranda Priestly (Streep), the enterprise’s editor-in-chief. Priestly has the reputation of being impossible to work for as well as a raging bitch that has no tolerance for her workers, but Andy is lured by the idea of being able to work for any publication she wants if she can survive a year with Miranda. She scores the job because Miranda actually finds it endearing that Andy knows nothing about fashion. The demanding job soon starts to affect Andy’s relationship with her boyfriend, Nate (Grenier), as well as fuel the feud with her co-worker, Emily (Blunt).
The driving force and beating heart of the film is Meryl Streep, who’s in full cold and calculated mode. Her Miranda is “disappointed” in nearly everyone around her and ends virtually every sentence with “that is all.” She’s well aware of her power and to question her is the equivalent of packing up your desk. Streep is superb in the role, particularly in a side-swiping emotional scene that actually has you kind of feeling sorry for her. The fact that the film ends on a successfully touching note speaks volumes to Streep’s performance. Anne Hathaway is well-cast as the perky, yet naïve, Andy. Her transformation throughout the film is impressive and she manages to never lose our sympathy, even when she makes some bad decisions along the way. The supporting work by Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci, Adrien Grenier, and Simon Baker is also top-notch.
The Devil Wears Prada does get a bit sidetracked in its final twenty minutes as it scrambles to tie up loose ends that weren’t really begging to be tied up, but it’s nevertheless a quality film that may find a broader audience than many are expecting. It’s a film for adults that seems refreshing with its lack of superheroes, special effects, and a bloated runtime.
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Length: 109 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for some sensuality.
Theatrical Release: June 30, 2006
Directed by: David Frankel
Written by: Aline Brosh McKenna. Based upon the novel by Lauren Weisberger.
Cast: Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci, Adrian Grenier, Tracie Thoms