Directed by: David Frankel
Premise: Adapted from Lauren Weisberger’s novel. Andy (Anne Hathaway) begins an administrative assistant job to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), an editor of a fashion magazine who makes life a nightmare for her employees. In Andy’s struggles to survive in the environment, she begins to take on the negative traits of her employer.
What Works: Although The Devil Wears Prada may appear to be an innocent “chick flick,” the film is much more than that. This is a Faust tale, in which Andy sells her soul to the magazine, to the fashion industry, and to Miranda in exchange for future success. The film’s structure of Andy’s corruption is well done. The audience will find themselves rooting for Andy to complete the individual tasks that Miranda has set before her but all the while we are witness to her transformation into the very thing she was struggling against. Andy’s change in character is likely to raise serious question in the audience about their own integrity. The Devil Wears Prada has great performances by all of the principle characters. Meryl Streep is wonderful as Miranda; she goes against expectation by playing her role very quietly and her delivery of the brutal lines that cut down her underlings are more intense and more hurtful because they are done so matter-of-factly. Streep and the screenplay manage to inject sympathy for her character by making her human and a living demonstration of the cost of success. Hathaway is also very good as the earnest everywoman who is sucked into the fast paced world and is almost unconsciously manipulated. Two underappreciated performances in the film are Emily Blunt as a seasoned assistant to Miranda and Stanley Tucci as one of the magazine’s editors and Hathaway’s guide through the fashion world. The two roles are integral to the development of Hathaway’s character and each breaks out of their stereotypes but in ways that are consistent with character.
What Doesn’t: The love story between Hathaway and Adrian Grenier is incomplete. The film does not fully portray the relationship or give us a sense of what is at stake. The film makes up for it in other areas, but the strain put on the love relationship could have been much stronger.
Bottom Line: The Devil Wears Prada is certainly one of the best films of the summer and easily one of the best films of the year. To the inattentive viewer, the story may appear to be simple or superficial, but attentive viewers will find that The Devil Wears Prada has much more going for it; it is an intelligent meditation on corruption and the lengths to which people will go to succeed.
Episode: #104 (July 23, 2006)