Thursday, July 26, 2007

And at last, 'The Devil Wears Prada'

Someone has said, "What should profit a man if he should gain the whole world but lose his soul in the process?". Countless plays, movies, novels, short stories, speeches, essays and nonfiction books have been written on the subject. Enters 'The Devil Wears Prada'. This movie is, thus, hardly original but smart, excellently acted and surprisingly fun and thoughtful.

Leaving aside the story and performance review, which I'll talk about later, I must specify upfront that if you are a 'Fashion' freak and enjoy observing, this movie is meant for you - forget about the story or anything, the fashionable traits of the movie will surely blow you over.

Andy (Anne Hathaway) is a sweet young scrubbed behind the ears young lady who moves from the countryside to the big bad city. She is so naive that she is genuinely surprised when not everyone is delighted to meet her.

She goes to work at a fashion magazine presided over by 'Miranda'. Miranda is a monsterboss, a consummate bitch. The kind of boss who inspires by fear and lives by mottos such as: "I don't have headaches, I cause them".

Andy starts her career at Runaway in awe & fear of the snazzily dressed arrogant women who work in this atmosphere of fear, stress and hostility. She thinks they are the powerful and the smart and sees herself as weak and silly. As the movie progresses, Andy learns she, by retaining her humanity, personality and principles, is the powerful and smart and her coworkers, by selling their souls and allowing themselves to be treated like garbage just for money and clothes, are the weak and silly.

The movie follows the very typical plot arc of having the protagonist be a nice person who, tempted by the dark side, acts like a jerk for a while, gets her comeuppance, sees the light and comes back to being a nice person all in about two hours. Wouldn't it be wonderful if real life worked so smoothly?

Meryl Streep is perfect as the devil-lady. She could be the best American actress alive. Miranda is a person of contradictions. She is loathesome and compelling, enviable and repulsive, powerful and vulnerable, regal and pathetic. She manages her professional world with a ruthless excellence that would make a political boss blush with modesty.

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