Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

The Devil Wears Prada (David Frankel, 2006)

To say that the only reason to watch The Devil Wears Prada is for Meryl Streep's subtly intense performance is not really far from the truth. Streep, with the little time that she actually figures in the film, raises the pic from one ordinary chick flick to another level, a chick flick with one very good performance in it. But then again, The Devil Wears Prada cannot be accurately described as a bad film saved by an excellent performance because it is actually good.

Based on a novel by Laura Weisberger, The Devil Wears Prada is about recently graduated journalism major Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) who finds herself employed as an assistant by the biggest name in the fashion magazine industry, Miranda Priestly (Streep). Miranda literally turns the office into an earth-bound hell. Other employees are mean and competitive and disguised in designer shirts, skirts and shoes. Her duties are tedious, whimsical and totally unrelated to what she initially wanted to become. But since Miranda is so big in the business, and so influential in other spheres, Andy is prepared to change herself and her wardrobe, last a year, and see to it that she makes something out of the experience.

But of course, the film is not totally about Andy Sachs and Miranda Priestly's love-hate relationship. Andy has a life of her own. She has a loving, if not cinematically boring boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier) whose thick eyebrows kept me from enjoying whatever chemistry is happening between the also thick eyebrowed Hathaway. She has her college friends (Tracie Thoms and Rich Sommer) who are really negligible film-wise, they just serve the purpose of telling us that Andy is sacrificing her friends because of her toxic corporate job. Then there's a rather nice relationship Andy develops with the magazine's art director, Nigel (Stanley Tucci). Tucci's Nigel is the affectionate, stoic, suffering, and fatherly homosexual that keeps the workplace sane for the new employee. Nigel is the brain behind the make-over and is the heart of Andy's conclusive catharsis.

The filmmaking is fine, if not totally negligible. I'm quite appreciative of the fact that the creative team did not decide to pump up the romance, or to force a metanoia for the devilish magazine editor-in-chief. There's already too much pretty dresses and colors in the film that an extra dose of smooching or hugging from the big eyed Hathaway and Grenier would get me puking with too much sugar. And then I repeat myself, I'm really not sure if the film would've worked without Streep. Her Miranda Priestly is vicious yet at unexpected times, vulnerable. Behind the fur coats, the fashionable shades, the high heels and the thick make-up is a woman who sacrificed alot to get what she wanted, and in return for selling her human soul, seeks to tempt and lure other innocent dreamers to take her skin in an effort for heartless success.

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