The movie opens with wide-eyed Andy (Anne Hathaway) coming, yes, to the big city to make her way. Never mind she's fashioned challenged, and the lampoon of unfettered disapproval by all who gasp at her plaid and wool. She's the pending yin to Priestly's rabid yang.
Oddly enough, Hathaway, who stunned in Brokeback Mountain among a stellar cast, has a lack of voltage here. The breakout performance is Priestly's climber of a minion, Emily, deliciously played by Emily Blunt. Blunt's upper crust English is a giddy contrast to the humiliation she is willing to endure to maintain her haute assistant status.
She is what is to become of our Andy if no ghost of Christmas pending arrives to warn her.
Toss in a little more than eye candy (Entourage's) Adrian Grenier as Andy's working class boyfriend and a dollop of other friends far too under developed here to matter and the roster is complete.
It's a morality play in chintz. Hathaway's Andy getting caught on the fast track of success without restraint, morality or true victory. Her own value system fights to find a place and in a climactic scene, Hathaway's attempt to “save” her boss from certain extinction is met with a gnat like dismissal by Priestly. The moment is so deft, the momentum of innocence running earnestly and frantically to the rescue only to have her effort reclassified as an interruption and insulting. Priestly's bloodied dismissal clearly invokes her omnipotent control of her universe where she has counter and counter-pointed every possible scenario with eerie precision…in advance.
It's Cinderella abuse, but it's wrapped neatly in deft writing and a characterization by Streep that makes tides reverse.
On the Brighton Scale of 1-4.
1-Requiring a comp ticket AND cab fare, 4- An Instant Brighton Classic. This is a tidy 3.
*Not to be used or reproduced in any way without expressed permission of author. Copy registered with the Writers Guild.
The Devil Wears Prada
Reviewed by Elizabeth Brighton*
Though hardly deep, The Devil Wears Prada is exactly as it should be: delectably catty, sleek and the kind of visual soufflé that makes men sit on their billfolds and women fish out the plastic.
But the true marvel here, is Meryl Streep.
A known characterization of Vogue Editor Anna Wintour, Streep gives Runway Magazine's Miranda Priestly the warmth of an ice pick and a verbal economy used so adroitly, she can fell a room with her disapproval.
It is nothing short of delicious to see the fashion world with its satin swatches missing.
Is it true Priestly's pursed lip can cause Tom Ford-type characters to cancel an entire line? Or that any one person in fashion can wield power so immense, that what we wear or desire to wear has its traces in her approval?
Directed by David Frankel Rated PG-13
ELIZABETH BRIGHTON Elizabeth Brighton is a Journalism graduate of Pepperdine University, Malibu and has been published in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe. She lives in New York where she is a media and communications consultant, loves the spoken word, pictures, travel, the arts …and anything contrary.