Friday, September 22, 2006


THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA started life as an infuriatingly trite novel by Lauren Weisberger documenting her trials as assistant to Anna "Nuclear" Wintour - editor of American Vogue. The novel no doubt filled the vacuum in the heart of thirteen year-old girls who dream of one day owning a Gucci handbag all of their very own. Accordingly it sold in bucket loads. I found the novel to be infuriating. The heroine is a whiny wannabe journalist who thinks she is above fashion journalism but it just as cut-throat and get-ahead as the rest of us. Her nemesis - the she-devil boss of the title is merely a string of cutting one-liners and seemingly sadistic demands. Admittedly, Weisberger lets her heroine fall from grace. But the plot machinations are so melodramatic as to be ludicrous and the ultimate message is not that you should work hard at something worthwhile, but that you should screw everyone, write a book, make a killing and thus clamber back onto your high horse.

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA the movie is similarly trite, except it doesn't even have the balls to convey a proper rise-fall-redemption arc. The heroine's primary-school teacher geek boyfriend becomes a cool, crumped chef in the Village. Her best friends are more together and her family less emotionally blackmailing. Oh, it goes in all sorts of small ways - the heroine of the movie is allowed to succeed in ways that the heroine of the novel is not.

The only change for the better in the movie is that the screenwriters have taken great pains to make Meryl Streep's evil boss humane. My god, she even cries! Well, I wonder if this was a genuine decision on how to improve the plot or whether they just decided that Meryl does a good break-down. (Didn't they do the same thing in THE HOURS - giving Meryl a break-down that her gay friend had in the novel?) Seriously though, Meryl Streep gives a fantastic performance that just about elevates this post-Sex and the City trash into watchable - maybe even entertaining - material. She is ably assisted in this task by Stanley Tucci and Emily Blunt who both turn in decent comedic performances. As for our heroine, played by Anne Hathaway, I am on record as saying that I really like Hathaway
as an actress, but I wish she would do more work that challenged her.

Other than that, this is a pretty sloppy affair. High gloss for sure, but sloppily thought out. What's their message? That it's impossible for a woman to have a family and a career? That a woman has to be bitchy and back-stabbing to survive in the corporate world? What kind of crap is this? It's also pretty sloppy in the editing. There is an exchange between our heroine and a seductor on the steps of a museum after a benefit that clearly refers to a conversation that has been excised.

So, all in all, this movie is pretty unedifying. In fact, the message of the film is fairly discouraging and would dismay any genuine career woman. Yes, yes, Meryl Streep is fantastic, but that doesn't quite stop this from being a deeply infuriating cinematic experience.

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA is already on release in the US, Puerto Rico, the, Philippines, Singapore, Israel and Hong Kong. It opens in Brazil, Denmark, France, Argentina, Australia and Thailand in September. It opens in Italy, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Slovenia, the UK, Finland, Latvia, Spain, Turkey and the Ukraine on October 5th. It opens in Germany, Greece and the Netherlands on October 12th and in Iceland, Sweden, Belgium, Estonia later that month. Finally, it opens in Lithuania, Egypt and Japan in November.