By Al Kratina
Feb 21, 2007 - 18:30
Starring: Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci
Director: David Frankel
Written by: Aline Brosh McKenna, Lauren Weisberger (novel)
Produced by: Wendy Finerman
Genres: Comedy / Drama
Release Date: June 30, 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some sensuality
Distributors: 20th Century Fox
Running Time: 109 minutes
The Devil Wears Prada has been nominated for 2007 Academy Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Meryl Streep) and Best Achievement in Costume Design (Patricia Field)
I've already seen this movie. Not quite as well made, to be sure, but I do remember it taking place in high school, with a clique of girls probably called the Plastics, a prom at the end, and maybe someone taking off their glasses and discovering that their outer beauty matches their inner beauty. But despite its charms, The Devil Wears Prada is one detention away from being The Breakfast Club, Mean Girls, Drive Me Crazy or any of the numerous useless movies that attract teenage girls like a drop-out in a leather jacket.
Starring Anne Hathaway, the plot of The Devil Wears Prada is as tired as it is predictable. A talented, passionate young writer who places no value on appearances struggles with her first post-university job as an assistant to Satan. Satan, the vile tempter, the great deceiver, has here taken the form of the editor of a fashion magazine, instead of Al Pacino or an animal familiar named Vinegar Tom. Based upon Anna Wintour of Vogue, the editor, Miranda Priestly, is played by Meryl Streep, who has taken Glenn Close's performance as Cruella Deville and put it on quaaludes. Remarkable calm yet monstrously evil, Priestly's voice never rises about a soft murmur, but her unreasonable demands, cutting remarks, and emotionless delivery push her beyond the pale of awful bosses and into the realm of arch-fiends. You can easily imagine her murmuring a blasphemous arrangement of arcane and forbidden names into the ear of a child, stopping its heart, or softly intoning a spell that swallows the sun in black fire. Her performance is quite good, and compared to what surrounds it, namely the trite, familiar story, and the mediocre and predictable performances, it truly stands out.
Director David Frankel treats the familiar with respect, going neither for cheap laughs nor presenting the material with undue seriousness. As for the plot, Hathaway loses her soul, her boyfriend, and her friends to haute couture, which seems to me kind of like giving your life to Boggle: insignificant and incredibly boring. I'm sure a lot of people get a lot of pleasure from watching a skinny cocaine addict stalk down a runway like a brittle cruise missile, but then again, a lot of people watch Mind of Mencia, so I guess there's no accounting for taste. Anyway, Hathaway soon learns that friends are more important than fashion, and that experiences you had in high school are apparently transferable to real life, with the snooty high fashion yuppies subbing in for the cool kid clique. What's interesting about the film is not the formulaic plot, nor any of the main characters, but rather the shred of originality that lies in the fact that Priestly never receives a comeuppance. Instead, she's presented as is, and the conflict becomes whether or not Hathaway can learn to love the devil. She can't, which comes as no surprise, but with Glenn Close pulling out all the stops as Lucifer, the audience might.
Rating: 5 on 10