DEVIL WEARS PRADA, THE
Aspiring journalist Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) applies for a job as 2nd assistant to the legendary, Prada-draped, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) editor of fashion bible, Runway. Her unglam looks contrast with the stiletto clacking team of acolytes around Miranda, yet she's hired ... for her smarts. Her first hurdle is 1st assistant Emily (Emily Blunt), before she succumbs to fashion director, Nigel (Stanley Tucci) for a make over, propelling her to acceptance. But her friends like Lilly (Tracie Thoms) and especially her boyfriend, Nate (Adrian Grenier), are sidelined by the demands of Andy's job. By the time she is accepted by her boss, she wants that acceptance less and less.
Review by Louise Keller:
The ultimate chick flick about designer glamour, catty claws and aspirations, The Devil Wears Prada is heaven in a handbag. Fashion may not be about utility, but it sure is easy on the eye. Satirical in its humour, there's a surprisingly soft centre to this adaptation of Lauren Weisberger's novel. The catwalk to success has never been so well dressed, as Valentino, Chanel, Galliano and Prada take centre stage.
When Meryl Streep's larger than life fashion magazine editor in chief steps into the building, there is a cyclone-like flurry among the pencil-thin, stylishly groomed staff. Reminiscent of Cruella deVille, Streep's Miranda Priestly is a wonderful creation, with platinum perfect hair and a manner that would induce an iceberg in the Mediterranean. 'That's all,' she murmurs dismissively to all and sundry, in a hushed tone that demands to be heard. But then along comes sensibly dressed Andy (Anne Hathaway), who not only has never heard of Miranda, but is less than intimidated by the whole package. Hathaway is enchanting as the wide-eyed, would-be journalist, whose integrity and morals inevitably become compromised. What girl wouldn't become seduced 'by the dark side', when Stanley Tucci's sardonic right-hand man Nigel utters those magical words 'You're in desperate need of Chanel.'
Our journey is through Andy's eyes as her new found lifestyle suffocates her previously simply and happy life with caterer boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier). After all, he is unimpressed by baubles, hairspray and frocks with a price tag. The lesson is one of integrity and self preservation, as betrayal becomes a way of life. Emily Blunt gives an all-too real fashion 'desperate', while Simon Baker's Christian shows off his charming veneer. There is a fine line between the comic and the tragic of this superficial playground and director David Frankel massages all our sensitive spots. It's everything you hope for - cuttingly funny and a la mode.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's a terrific story, really, about the upper echelons of the fashion world, where it's not just about stilettos, but stilettos at five paces. Best thing about the screenplay is its ability to deliver this superficial schtick to suck you in, and then lob in a few asides to show how much more is at stake for all the characters. And how much more than dressing is ... dressing.
Having started my professional life as a men's fashion journalist in the swinging London of the mid 60s, I can vouch for one thing: the business is serious, both in commercial terms and in the way fashion butts up to contemporary society in so many ways, from pop culture to politics. Fashion statements can deliver acceptance or rejection in your chosen peer group, which is why business executives and politicians gravitate naturally to neutral; it avoid causing offence and starting out on the wrong foot... note to Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway). But she learns that, and Hathaway's impossibly enormous brown eyes squelch at the sight of her slim peers in Prada as she arrives in a bulky blue knit. It's torn to shreds, of course, in one of the film's pivotal scenes when Miranda deconstructs her (relatively) dreary clothes while building the case for high fashion. This is great writing - not to mention great performing, but the film has too few of these scenes.
So it's Meryl Streep in full sweep, Stanley Tucci in touch with his gay side, Emily Blunt as a bluntly ambitious climber and an assured, relaxed Simon Baker as a freelance journalist crossing Andy's path who make the film enjoyable for their performances alone.
That's because too often the Hollywood factor takes over, and we are thumped in the head with heavy handed filmmaking that seems aimed at aliens who don't understand human nature. If it can't be subtle, at least it's polished and stylish. It does get carried away sometimes, like when Andy first discovers dressing up, and we have a long montage of her in about two dozen outfits; and it's after this that Miranda first notices her new style sense?
Such are the weak links in this cable weave film, but who cares; we aren't meant to take it as seriously as the characters. If only there was more New York than Los Angeles in the film's sensibilities...
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DEVIL WEARS PRADA, THE (PG)
CAST: Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci, Adrian Grenier, Tracie Thoms, Rich Sommer, Simon Baker, Daniel Sunjata
PRODUCER: Wendy Finerman
DIRECTOR: David Frankel
SCRIPT: Aline Brosh McKenna (novel by Lauren Weisberger)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Florian Ballhaus
EDITOR: Mark Livolsi
MUSIC: Theodore Shapiro
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jess Gonchor
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 28, 2006
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