Thursday, June 29, 2006

Working Girl vs. ‘The Devil’

For anyone who may think that photo-heavy glossy fashion magazines are just about "stuff", "The Devil Wears Prada" will dispel that notion. Also, for anyone who may think that the world of haute couture is fairly cutthroat—this film will likely confirm their contention, in the extreme. Adapted for the screen from a novel by Lauren Weisberger, it’s a comedy about the road to self-discovery—and the potholes encountered along the way.
Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries) plays the film’s heroine, Andrea ‘Andy’ Sachs. A recent Northwestern graduate now living in New York City, Andy dreams of a career as a hard-news journalist for a big newspaper. She also shares a modest apartment with her boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier), a chef at a local restaurant.
Unassuming and idealistic, Andy’s job search brings her to Runway Magazine, part of an international publishing conglomerate. When Andy arrives for her interview, she finds herself being openly derided by everyone around her, and is curiously concerned as Runway staffers nearly run over each other as the CEO, Miranda Priestly, makes her way to the office.
Oscar-winner Meryl Streep is sufficiently chilly as the ice queen Miranda. Brusque and demanding, she is always perfectly coifed and exquisitely dressed, and expects that everyone in Runway must be the same. Naturally, she sees Andy as a dowdy dimwit, but hires her as a personal assistant anyway—out of pity. Andy is schooled on Miranda protocols by staffers Nigel (Stanley Tucci) and Emily (Emily Blunt), but both have little faith that she will last long.
Complements are quite beneath Miranda—the most her employees can hope for is to simply not be viewed as an annoyance. So when coffee runs, picking up Miranda’s dry cleaning and walking her dog seem to have no effect on her boss’s demeanor, Andy cajoles Nigel into giving her a makeover. With a new hairdo and the latest high-end threads, Andy finally starts to fit in, mingling in high-society soirees and bringing home lavish gifts that are Miranda’s castaways. Miranda even stops addressing Andy by someone else’s name.
Andy’s self-confidence is boosted, but as she becomes more intimate with Miranda’s world—and worldview—her relationship with Nate and her neighborhood friends begins to suffer. Complicating matters is Andy’s new friendship with handsome freelance journalist Christian (Simon Baker). He’s well-traveled and well-connected, everything that Nate is not.
So, does Andy hang on to her newfound position as #1 assistant to Miranda? Does she pursue romance with the charming Christian? Will she ever get a ‘you go, girl!’ from Emily and Nigel? Viewers will have to see the film to find out. Hathaway is believable as the plucky Andy, and Streep only fleetingly lets viewers glimpse at the humanity beneath Miranda’s draconian veneer. Director David Frankel has helmed episodes of Sex in the City, and facilitates this slightly different tale of working-girl angst quite well.
Film: The Devil Wears Prada
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: David Frankel

No comments: