Saturday, July 22, 2006

Movie Review: The Devil Wears Prada

Hubs was off picking up DS#2 from a 50-mile hike. It was hot and our house doesn't have air-conditioning. I did not have to report for jury duty at 1:00 p.m. I suggested a movie and DD#1 suggested The Devil Wears Prada.

"What's the rating?" I asked.

"PG-13," she answered.

"Good. DD#2 can go."

Except for the PG-13 (Andy and her boyfriend are obviously living together), this could have been a Disney movie. Naive, wholesome, Midwestern girl comes to NYC to follow her dream of becoming a Journalist. The only job she can find is with a major haute couture magazine as the Second Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief, a tyrant in stilettos. The First Assistant is following in her example.

E-I-C begins to take over the Naif's life, giving her impossible tasks (the 7 tasks of Hercules, perhaps?), which Naif manages to pull off. Naif befriends a photo editor who takes her under his wing and does a Queer Eye makeover. Naif begins to lose her sense of self, abandoning her friends under the pretext, "I don't have a choice!" and the belief that surviving a year with the E-I-C will open many doors for her in her chosen field.

Crisis comes. Naif must chose to abandon job or submarine First Assistant. She chooses the submarine. After making choice, Naif becomes immersed in darker side of fashion magazine world and begins to see the knives hidden beneath the Hermes scarves.

Will Naif be lured by the Dark Side? Will she regain her senses, her goals, her Self? Will she use The Force?

Remember, this is a movie Disney could have made. Anne Hathaway, who plays the Naif, got her start with Disney.

Meryl Streep is the E-I-C. She could have gone all Cruella DeVille but chose, instead, to be subtle. She never yells. She never panics. She never tears her hair out. Rather, she causes others to do all of the above. She is manipulative and subtle, but her messages are clear. She dominates every scene she's in, mostly by force of personality.

Anne Hathaway was perfect as Andy Sachs, the Naif. Her transformation from preppy college girl to high fashion diva was amazing. She really did well, I thought, at portraying someone who was trying to keep her balance in a world she wasn't prepared for. And it's always nice to see smart women. (This movie actually had several of them.)

I wasn't too keen on the emphasis on weight. There's a scene where the photo editor (Stanley Tucci) tells Andy that "4 is the new 6, 2 is the new 4, and zero is the new 2." They're talking about dress sizes. Andy confesses she is a 6. The photo editor later makes a comment about her "fat size-6 ass" and she responds, "it's a 4."

Sigh. I'm a size 12 or 14, depending on the style, and I don't consider myself "fat." What kind of message is this sending out, especially since neither of my daughters has ever been, nor will they ever be, size 6?

I probably enjoyed this movie more than my daughters did, in part because I loved seeing an older woman take complete command, and also because I've worked in several different offices. I recognized the power struggles, the politics and even the demands made on one's personal life.

And the clothes were gorgeous, especially the evening gowns. The costume designers dressed the actresses in classic elegance. There were several I would wear in a heartbeat--if I had somewhere to wear them! ;) The shoes were something else (what is it about us women and shoes?). I was impressed at how fast Anne Hathaway could run in stilettos. I cannot imagine walking around New York, or even the office, wearing what some of these women were wearing on their feet. I'd be in pain. Could that be why they take cabs everywhere? Or have a car and driver at their disposal?

On the March Hare Scale: 3 out of 5 Golden Tickets, mostly because of Meryl Streep. Make it a matinee afternoon with "the girls" and go shoe shopping afterward. And eat. Celebrate the fact that you don't have to starve yourself to a size 2!