The Devil Wears Prada

on June 30, 2006 by Christine James
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Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) is the bright, just-out-of-college aspiring Serious Journalist of lore -- the kind who's happiest when writing stories about janitors' unions and social injustice. But a thudding lack of response to her job applications has led Andy far afield of hard-hitting news outlets and into an interview for the post of Second Assistant to the editor of Runway, a top fashion magazine. The casually-garbed, designer-oblivious Andy already feels like a fish out of water just by entering the building, whose marble lobby is cacophonous with "clackers," as she dubs the stilettoed staffers. But when she comes face to face with the imperious Miranda Priestly (a transfixing Meryl Streep), whose mere presence causes terror alerts among her own colleagues, it's more like Andy has been transported to another planet, where everyone is fluent in Dolce & Gabbana, and haute couture is de rigueur. Where Anne Hathaway can be called fat with a straight face.

Dismissed as hopeless at first sight by Miranda's super-stressed acerbic First Assistant, Emily (played with a strangely likable twist by Emily Blunt), and given an even more cutting appraisal by Miranda, Andy vows to prove them wrong by doing the job to perfection -- not yet knowing that an average day requires the accomplishment of the proverbial six impossible things before breakfast. Out of her element, Andy enlists the help of Runway's art director, the snarky but sweet Nigel (Stanley Tucci), who transforms her into the ultimate fashionista. In other words, to the unabashed delight of the film's target audience, it's makeover and outfit montage time! But by the time Emily declares to Andy that "you sold your soul the day you put on those Jimmy Choos!", it's obvious that the world Andy once ridiculed has practically subsumed her.

Based on the book by Lauren Weisberger, who drew from her experiences working at Vogue, "The Devil Wears Prada" is impressively free of black-and-white characterizations. A brimstone scent might follow the outrageously demanding and self-serving Miranda wherever she goes, but she's also shown as being devastatingly intelligent and, as Andy points out in a Stockholm Syndrome moment, she is only criticized for her power-plays because of her gender. Supporting characters have their vices and virtues, and the only real enemy is the inner voice that tells us to be someone we're not. Starring Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, Emily Blunt and Adrian Grenier. Directed by David Frankel. Written by Aline Brosh McKenna. Produced by Wendy Finerman. A Fox release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for some sensuality. Running time: 109 min

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