The Devil Wears Prada, starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, with Stanley Tucci and Emily Blount in strong supporting roles, is from an acclaimed novel by Lauren Weisberger which I have not read. The good news is that you do not have to have read the novel to enjoy this film that takes a great big satirical bite out of the fashion magazine business in New York City.
Directed by David Frankel (Miami Rhapsody, episodes of Sex and the City) and from a screenplay adaptation of the novel penned by Aline Brosh McKenna (Laws of Attraction, Three to Tango), Prada stars Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly, the managing editor of “Runway”, which is the fashion magazine of the moment and the last ten thousand moments. She has enormous clout in both the fashion and publishing worlds and is also well known as the most difficult boss to work for. Think for a moment of the worst boss you’ve ever had and then multiply by a factor of ten. She puts the “I” into impossible with her everyday demands and her list of whims are endless. In fact, so demanding is she, that she needs two assistants, and poor Andrea Sachs (Hathaway) has landed an interview for the recently vacated position of second assistant.
Andy (for some reason the credits spell her name with the Y rather than I as is typical for a female) lives in New York with her boyfriend Nate; has just graduated from college where she was the managing editor of the school newspaper; and she wants to break into journalism. She’s smart, a good writer and according to Miranda’s first assistant Emily (Emily Blunt), fashion challenged and totally wrong for the job.
However when Miranda shows up early she decides to interview this new candidate herself and ends up hiring Andy, taking a chance that perhaps brains might make up for the lack of fashion sense. Of course, Andy hates her new job, her new boss and her co-worker Emily, but she is determined to stick it out because “after a year with Miranda, so many doors will be opened for me.” The question is, will the sacrifices that this year, or however long it lasts, be worth those open doors?
At first she makes fun of the women she works with, calling them clackers because of the clacking sound that their impossibly high heels make on the hard floor of the building lobby and the sidewalk outside, and poking fun at their efforts to be dressed as fashionably as possible. But there comes a moment of frustration and awakening where she realizes that if she is going to succeed in her position, she can’t remain an outsider. To gain Miranda’s confidence she has to become a fashion queen herself, and with Hathaway’s good looks, this transformation comes off quite nicely.
But with these changes come inward changes that don’t go over well with Nate, or Andy’s friends. She fawns over them with expensive gifts, Miranda’s cast-offs, which they adore. However they want her time and she has precious little of it as her cell rings constantly with more and more frequent needs of Miranda. The demands of serving every single whim of Miranda immediately, while trying to have a life reach a critical mass when her father comes to visit for a weekend.
There is more and I won’t spoil the rest of the tale except to say that I would have preferred any of several other possible endings. Satire allows for hard edged choices in the final resolution and not making one of those choices illustrates the unwillingness of the creators to go all the way.
The acting is first rate, Streep delivering her usual fine work although do not expect her to receive any nominations for her performance. Hathaway was okay, but I think there were other actresses who might have done better in the role. Then again, that could be because every scene that she shared with either Stanley Tucci or Emily Blunt was stolen by them, both doing wonderful work in their supporting roles. Tucci’s work as “Nigel”, the career executive at “Runway”, toiling away in obscurity, waiting for that great reward from Miranda that may well never come might be his best performance yet.
The Devil Wears Prada was fun and funny. Enjoy it.