Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

2006, US, directed by David Frankel

Rating: ***

Behind the chiffon and the heels, this is age-old story of a small-town girl making it big in the city - though not always on her own terms. It's the kind of thing that Hollywood excels at - after all, the entire industry is built on dream-chasing - and The Devil Wears Prada is a worthy addition to the genre. Like most films set in the fashion industry, it does try to have things both ways, ridiculing the culture's self-obsessed denizens, yet delighting in the spectacular outfits. Similarly, while there's much comment on the stick-figure imagery of the fashion magazines, it's occasion for celebration when the already lithe Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) drops a dress size. Still, it's impossible to dislike a film that elevates cattiness to such heights, especially in the person of Miranda Priestly, a magazine editor who initially appears to be of Cruella de Vil proportions, played with tremendous gusto by Meryl Streep. Ms. Streep has plenty of fun with the character, pursing her lips and issuing orders with the most dismissive of waves (there's also a beautifully played scene of distress that showcases the actress's subtler side, and which provides a fine commentary on the strains and unreasonable expectations imposed on professional women). Ms. Hathaway does fine with the lead role - she's more than capable with fairytale material like this - while Stanley Tucci gives a lovely performance as Andy's one confidant in the cutthroat magazine business. There's a little too much musical montage - at times, it's like Pretty Woman on steroids - but otherwise this is pretty polished fare from a director who cut his fashion teeth on Sex and the City episodes.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States