THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
The Devil Wears Prada. The iconic movie that was nominated for more than seven national and international awards, including the Golden Globe for best acting in a comedy. Surely, they must have done something right. The ritzy movie features popular stars like Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep, who fit in perfectly with the glamorous fashionista feel of the movie. Prada, Gucci, and Yves Saint Laurent are all names are casually flung around throughout the movie. The haute couture on display, you might just find that you have caught the fashion fever. You might learn to take fashion more seriously. But fashion is not the only thing you would love about the movie.
First, if you haven’t already had the pleasure of watching the movie (beware: spoilers ahead), this short summary would suffice for you to make sense of this review. Andrea Sachs is an Ivy League grad who aspires to be a journalist. Andera’s heart brimming with the desire to achieve her dreams, she moves to New York City. She applies for a job as the assistant of the Miranda Priestly of Runway, and to the surprise of every single person who was in on this, she is accepted. As she enters the doors of the Runway office, she and the viewers along with her get a glimpse into the alternative reality of fashion magazines and how seriously the people working in the industry take it. Now, to the less objective part of the article.
For starters, if you clicked on The Devil Wears Prada realizing that one of the main roles is played by the Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep, I won’t judge you and you’re not alone. She is an amazing actress. The subtlety of her expressions and the elegant manner in which she delivers in the dialogues makes her perfect for this role. I cannot imagine any other actress playing the role of Miranda Priestly.
Moreover, the movie is an exploration of several themes – the most important one being the question of career vs. personal life. Andrea is in a competitive job that requires her constant attention, and this isn’t exactly compatible with her desire to maintain a private life. She distances herself from her friends and the intimate relationship she had. It’s as if the movie is questioning the viewers, urging them to place themselves in Andrea’s shoes, asking them: would you make that trade-off? In that sense, the movie is illuminating the troubles of those people, especially women who are in a career as Andrea’s.
One feature of The Devil Wears Prada that stands out is a compelling use of the technique of contrast and juxtaposition. The opening scene is just one example when this technique is applied. The scene takes us through a segment of the lives of several women- which includes Andrea- and the contrast between her lifestyle and the other fashionable NYC women is clear. It’s also a foreshadowing of what’s to come and what’s to befall Andrea. The use of this technique makes the scenes highly impactful.
AS POWERFUL AS THE OPENING WAS, THE MOVIE ENDED ON THE SAME LEVEL.
What I believe to be one of the greatest scenes in cinematic history is the ending scene of this movie. Viewers see Andrea and Miranda in the car, dressed in the kind of obsequious finery that characterizes the very essence of the movie. The gala in Paris had just ended, and Andrea was still feeling the bitter pain of witnessing a betrayal of a friend. Does Andrea want this kind of life? “Don’t be silly,” Miranda says, “Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us.” She sauvely puts on her sunglasses, a shield to face the reality she created for herself – the cameras, the paparazzi, the fame. This was the climactic watershed moment when Andrea makes the decision to leave. It is a combination of these elements – the dialogue, the music, the message – which made the scene impactful.
THESE ARE ALL THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT THE MOVIE.
On the contrary, a litany of complains about the movie is not difficult to come with if you’re watching it after reading the book. For starters, the multitude of elements that are left out of the movie doesn’t go unnoticed – Nigel’s gay side. Andrea’s family (especially her sister and the role she played in Andy’s life). Lily’s misadventures, and Miranda’s story of her rise to fame is only a few of them. A lot of these details make the plot richer, more interesting, more accurate and a holistic portrayal of reality. Such a large chunk shouldn’t have been chopped out of the movie.
I hate how little Lily is shown in the movie, as opposed to her pervasive appearance in the book. She added to the plot and was important in Andy’s characterization- to show the side of her as someone’s best friend. Some alterations were made as well. In an interview with the Cosmopolitan magazine, Lauren Weisberger, the author of the roman-a-clef, talked about how differently Miranda was portrayed in the movie. This was compared to the way she imagined it in her book, the way she was humanized more than was necessary as in the scene when she breaks down in front on Andrea.
Similar to that, I wish that the crucial moments in the movie were paid more attention to Andy and Nate’s (who should have been Alex) break-up, Nigel’s moment of heartbreak, Emily’s betrayal, and so on. There are important moments that were scattered throughout the movie and they should have been explored at a greater depth. Speaking of depth, if you grew tired of the characters’ obsession with the world of fashion and with Miranda Priestly over the course of the movie, I wouldn’t blame you.
But, let’s not be too harsh on The Devil Wears Prada. It is, after all, a chick-flick and a great movie as long as you take it for what it is. A light-hearted piece of entertainment that only subtly knocks on the doors of reality. It’s not too deep, it’s definitely not shallow, which makes it the ideal pick for a movie night.
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA