The Devil Wears Prada

The triple digit heat drove this even this DVD diehard towards the coolness of the movie theater. I decided to take in The Devil Wears Prada.

This film is based on a novel that stems from a true life experience of working as a personal assistant to a fashion magazine mogul. Anne Hathaway plays Andie, the second assistant. She is the frumpy young woman who lands this job that "a million other girls would kill for" even though she really wants to work in journalism and has less than no interest in fashion. In short, she is the apprentice. Meryl Streep plays Miranda Priestley, the woman in charge of the fictitious fashion magazine, Runway (translation: Vogue). Streep is particularly adept with her character for her no nonsense business attitude; she makes the Ice Queen from Narnia seem warm and cuddly.

Hathaway starts the job and is a total misfit. She is clueless about fashion, and yearns for a different job. The gold carrot that keeps her going is that if she can stick it out for a year, the doors of opportunity will open to a job she actually wants. As with many jobs, there is a seemingly endless list of tasks to master. Just when she thinks she has them down, they throw another more difficult task at her (my favorite involves obtaining an unpublished Harry Potter novel). As time goes on, she does become more functional, and picks up a sense of fashion despite her initial resistance.

Unfortunately, as can too easily happen, getting ahead in a career involves personal sacrifice. Hathaway is literally a prisoner to her cell phone, and has to be able to instantly respond to any request from her boss. This strains her relationship with her entire social support network: her friends, her parents, and her “significant other” boyfriend. At first it appears worth it, but all that glitters is not gold, and Hathaway must ultimately make some serious choices for her future.

The standout role of the film is Meryl Streep’s portrayal of the high power, dominating magazine executive. Reportedly, she didn’t talk to Hathaway during the filming in order to keep up her icy edge. She is the perfect example of the type of executive who never raises her voice, but commandeers respect and obedience from her underlings. At a few points in the film we get a glimpse into the softer side of this woman. However, she views her troubled marriage more like a failed business merger, than what it actually is. Streep should strongly be considered for an academy award for this role.

While The Devil Wears Prada is highly character driven, in the end, it also functions as a morality tale. Hathaway must ultimately choose between being true to herself, or pursuing the business of world, permeated with greed and power. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, learned quite a bit about how the fashion industry works, and highly recommend it. This is one of very few films that I can’t wait to see again when it comes out on disc.

Overall Grade: A

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