Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Devil Wears Prada


I had a lovely morning on the terrace at Chateau Maine with the scent of orange blossom in the air and nice cup of Earl Grey tea to sip upon while Jerry, the maid, took a beater to the hall carpet which she was giving a good airing on the back lawn. With a gentle thwack, thwack, thwack in the background, I decided to give a call to my business managers to check on some of my ancillary interests which I was unable to attend to during my time at that rather dreary tropical resort. I'm glad I have been able to put that vacation behind me. I spent some time with my lavender scented stationary last night penning personal notes to the editors of the travel sections of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and US News and World Report informing them that Gitmo's in the Caribbean should not be given any sort of favorable review in their august publications.

My business managers informed me that my clothing lines were in dire need of some revitalization. GlamourPuss gowns, haute couture based on the costumes form 'Cats' are starting to look very passé with the closing of the original production. Women of style are now aping Elphaba and Galinda in Wicked - a trend of which I approve, although the green make-up does tend to stain. VickiWear, my lower priced line for the woman on the go, is still doing relatively well, however, due to a new deal signed with the Dollar Store and a new slogan, 'A Buck for Blouse and Bloomers'. It's obviously time to roll up my sleeves and go back to work making the world just a tad more lovely, one lady at a time.

I decided that if I were going to re-enter the world of high fashion, an update on its politics and trends was in order so Normy and I flipped through the titles available at the local dollar cinema and came across The Devil Wears Prada with Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. I did not read the novel when it came out, but did read the jacket and was aware that it was a roman a clef by Lauren Weisberger, a young lady who had the good fortune to work for a time as assistant to Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue. It seemed like the very thing to give me an insight to the current fashion mind. I had asked my agent to suggest me for the part of Miranda if the novel were ever filmed as who else would be as well suited to play a successful trend setter and fashion executive, but that I would require a minimum of three musical numbers and two dance sequences. I suppose they were looking for a less musical adaptation.

The Devil Wears Prada tells basic movie tale number 39B, naïf comes to the big city and at first embraces, than rejects the compromises for survival in the rat race. The setting, this time around, is the world of high fashion. Young Andy (Anne Hathaway), an aspiring journalist, takes her newly minted Northwestern University BA to the big apple to find a job in the magazine world. She applies for a job at Runway magazine as a personal assistant to the legendary editor, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) without a clue as to whom she is or what sort of a life or job she is assuming. Miranda, having run through a bevy of young female fashionistas (personified by her other assistant Emily (Emily Blunt), decides to take a chance on Andy and Andy finds herself thrown into a brave new world of clothes, accessories, latte runs, dog walking, impossible errands, and constant beck and call.

Andy, at first derided by the other employees for her frumpy style, eventually has an obligatory Cinderella moment when Nigel (Stanley Tucci), a design director, gives her one of those cinema montage makeovers and at the end of it, another ugly duckling becomes a designer clad swan. Seduced by the clothes, the glamour, a famous journalist (Simon Baker) and Paris during fashion week, Andy must choose between her new high powered life style and her old life represented by her steadfast chef boyfriend (Adrian Grenier) and her best bud (Tracie Thoms). The outcome is never in much doubt but there are a few twists and turns along the way.

The film is dominated by Meryl Streep's performance as Miranda. While a lesser actress would have made the dominating and demanding editor into a screeching harridan, Streep finds the velvet glove over the steel fist. She never raises her voice, never loses her cool and she makes even the most outrageous demands on Andy, such as finding a pre-publication copy of the last Harry Potter novel, seem natural extensions of her pursuit of excellence. Streep creates such a convincing character, nuanced, compelling and, in the few scenes where Miranda's mask slips, all too human, that the movie loses steam when she's not on screen. We're nowhere near as interested in Andy's adventures in fashion wonderland as we are in what makes Miranda tick. Anne Hathaway is a charming and fetching young actress, but she's not got the chops to carry a film when the supporting cast is stealing scenes left, right and sideways. The part may be an impossible one for any young actress to play as she has to be the straight man to all the assorted zanies.

There are also good turns from Stanley Tucci as the ambiguously gay designer and the fabulous Emily Blunt as Miranda's other assistant. Emily is set up to be the villain of the piece, but Ms. Blunt's quirky line readings and perfect capturing of fashionista wannabe bring the audience around to her side quickly and, by the end of the film, we're rooting for her to find the happiness she seeks. Adrian Grenier, Simon Baker and Daniel Sunjata also score in supporting roles as the boyfriend, the new love interest, and a high powered fashion designer.

The film rockets along at a rapid place under David Frankel's assured direction. It's helped along by a great visual look, Patricia Field's costume designs and a hip and happening soundtrack including hits from Madonna, Moby, Alanis Morissette and a French translation of 'Dream A Little, Dream Of Me' underscoring a romantic Parisian dinner. I was, however, a little disappointed at the lack of sequins and ostrich feathers in the highlighted couture.

I found that I enjoyed the film immensely and will recommend it to my readers, but the recommendation is based solely on its MTV video qualities and a fabulous Meryl Streep performance. Much of the rest of it is fairly standard fare.

Toasted cheese sandwiches. Boots. Harry Potter reading. Miami hurricane. Gratuitous Dolce & Gabbana joke. Cupcake with candle. Museum benefit. Misplaced magazine mock-up. Taxi accident. Cloak and dagger publishing politics.

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