Review of "The Devil Wears Prada" (2006)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Release Date: June 30, 2006
Directed by: David Frankel
Run time: 109 min.
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci
Based on the best-selling book "The Devil Wears Prada", this 2006 movie adaptation gives viewers a look at what it's like to work in the fast-paced world of fashion in New York City. Despite the glitz and glamour associated with the business, this view is from the bottom of the totem pole, as Andrea "Andy" Sachs (Anne Hathaway) is a recently-graduated Journalism major who ends up working for the leading fashion magazine. The easygoing twenty-something is not cut out for the job, literally or figuratively. She has no fashion sense and wants to see the good in everyone while those used to working in NYC know better. Knowing full well that the position isn't ideal, Andy takes it since experience is essential to having a real career. She lives with her boyfriend, Nate (played by Adrien Grenier), in a small apartment in the city as the two try to figure out their careers. Nate is supportive of Andy and shares her laid-back, non-judgmental nature.
As second assistant to the editor-in-chief, Andy has the unfortunate task of working under Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). The Cruella de Vil look alike is considered goddess of the fashion world and as a result, she treats employees as insignificant objects that are replaceable. As the new second assistant she's constantly put down by her boss, though she takes it in stride and continues to try harder. Andy's office mate is a sharp and witty character by the name of Emily (played by Emily Blunt) who takes on a condescending air around the new girl. As the first assistant to Miranda, she's not concerned with helping Andy but rather getting to travel to Paris for Spring Fashion Week with her boss.
Exhausted and feeling like she'll never measure up, Andy eventually confides to Nate that she doesn't think she can do it anymore. However after speaking with Runway's art director, Nigel (Stanley Tucci), she gets a different perspective of Miranda the person. Before throwing in the towel, she decides to give it one last shot. She throws herself into the position headfirst and dedicates nearly every waking moment to it. She also concentrates more effort on her appearance, losing weight and getting a new wardrobe. Soon, Andy's appearance and work ethic start to impress Miranda. The rest of the staff catches on, and suddenly she's the new "it" girl at work. However this royal treatment is interrupted when the boss asks her to go to Paris Fashion Week in place of Emily. Making matters worse, Miranda tells her new favorite to deliver the news herself. Of course Emily is devastated, and Andy feels awful since deep down she knows she doesn't really care about going.
As Andy continues to ride out this high point at work, Nate and the couple's friends see her getting lost within its superficial world of competition. In one sad part of the movie, Andy ends up trapped at a fashion event for the majority of the night when it's Nate's birthday. Arriving back home around midnight, she brings her boyfriend a cupcake with a candle in it, only to realize from the look on his face that this wouldn't begin to compensate for her not being there. Ultimately Andy experiences a sequence of events that make her question what it is that she's doing. The demands of her job have caused her to abandon everything that was once meaningful in her life, including her sense of self.
Bottom line: 4 out of 5 stars. "The Devil Wears Prada" is a clever, fun movie that remains a favorite amongst many female viewers due to its fashion theme. Since being released in 2006, the film has maintained an impressive 76% on RottenTomatoes.com' Tomatometer, the website asserting that it surpasses the quality of its source novel. However that concept is saying a lot, since the original "Devil Wears Prada" was the best-selling mass-market softcover book in the nation as of July 2006 (Publishers Weekly). Written by Lauren Weisberger in 2003, the novel was a speculated roman à clef of her real life experience as a put-upon assistant to Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
Two performances in the movie stand out, and the first is that of Meryl Streep. The accomplished actress gives a stellar performance as the villain of the film, remaining charming and ever so entertaining throughout. A NY Times' review describes "with her silver hair and pale skin, her whispery diction as perfect as her posture, Ms. Streep's Miranda inspires both terror and a measure of awe." Indeed the villainous Runway editor is just as graceful and enchanting as she is cruel. Her part in the movie is only more proof that she's one of the most gifted actresses of our time. It also reminds the audience of her amazing ability to completely inhabit whatever character she plays.
Emily Blunt also shines "The Devil Wears Prada". With a few moments of humility and understanding shining through, her character is, for the most part, selfish and shallow. As Miranda's senior assistant, Emily is supposed to be someone whose interests and motivating factors would make most decent human beings frown upon her. Blunt brings all that to the table and more, and if letter grades could be given for a performance, she should get an A. Each scene shows her possessing the same same fiery spirit and unsympathetic luster.
As the main character, Anne Hathaway certainly isn't disappointing. Of course, it's hard to not root for the vulnerable and naive girl whose about to get eaten alive. Along these same lines I have a difficult time believing anyone would be this gullible and defenseless. With Miranda Priestly insulting someone and belittling them to the point she did Andy, it's unlikely they'd still be smiling and asking what else they can do for their boss. That's Anne Hathaway in a nutshell, at least for part of the movie. After that kind of first day on the job, 95% of twenty-something females would not come back.
The only weak point of the movie as a whole would be its predictability, at least for mature viewers. After Andy starts working at Runway, it becomes obvious the path she's going to travel as well as the epiphany she will have at the end. Some people might not want to see this typical story played out again, i.e. the grass appears greener on the other side scenario. At the same time the concept of losing oneself and/or not staying true to one's roots is nothing new. These two things considered, "The Devil Wears Prada" does put a twist on its theme with the New York City fashion element. This makes it more modern and interesting, especially for females. And, at the heart of its story is a dilemma that we all face as human beings. Is one's professional success worth their personal sacrifices? In Andy's case, it seems the answer is obvious.