The Devil Wears Prada (***)

Posted on July 1st, 2006 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

The Devil Wants Starbucks

So we went to see The Devil Wears Prada and it was really good. Meryl Streep gives yet another amazing performance as the head of the world’s most influential fashion magazine. She plays the character as a cross between Cruella de Ville, Vito Corleone, and Margaret Thatcher. The movie is very biting and very funny. I’m not sure I’m 100% on board with the message, but I’m at least 75% there.

The movie tells the tale of a young, earnest, pretty, smart, normal-sized girl (Size 6, maybe?…normal-sized by Hollywood standards is what I mean). She shows up for an interview for a low-on-the-totem-pole clerical opening at the world’s leading fashion magazine, specifically the assistant to the assistant to the editor in chief. The girl is very well played by Anne Hathaway (who?), and she holds her own on-screen with heavyweights La Streep and Stanley Tucci. Her character knows nothing about the fashion world and is confused by the seriousness and reverence with which the fripperies of style are looked upon by the priestesshood.

Of course, that’s where the movie starts. By the middle she has moved up to be Streep’s characters right hand gal, and becomes a starry-eyed true believer, hypnotized by the power and beauty of being in the upper echelons of the fashion world.

This being Hollywood, of course, she comes to her senses by the end and goes back to her standard-Jetta-commercial-issue boyfriend, leaves the fashion world behind, and seems to content to be an earthbound girlfriend of a wannabe-chef.

The part I’m on board with is leaving the cutthroat world of high fashion behind. But the part I’m not on board with is going right back to her starter-life with her zero boyfriend. It doesn’t help that the film doesn’t really capture any chemistry between the two.

But, this is really Ms. Streep’s film. She doesn’t chew up the scenery, she simply gives it withering looks until it self-destructs in self-defense. Her character is fully realized and completely unredeemable. She sacrifices everything (family, love, happiness) to maintain her iron grip on the helm of the fashion world, and it is her example that first dazzles Hathaway’s character, and then ultimately educates her into the true cost of “success”. That is a point with which I am very much on board – sacrificing everything for professional success is like making sure you have the largest, most impressive bucket of air. It doesn’t matter how big or fancy or jewel-encrusted or rare it is, it’s still just a container filled with nothing.

I’ll take a houseplant in a terra cotta planter, made with happiness and love, any day of the week.

That’s all.

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