Monday, January 15, 2007

The Devil Wears Prada Report Card

href="">The Devil Wears Prada is a near-perfect chic-lit realization. It's light, infectious, full of moxie and dazzles you with fashion and an ugly duckling subplot while maintaining the moral high ground about vacuous physical transformations.

Certainly the movie doesn't start auspicously with a montage of several women getting dressed for morning appointments that is meant to show us just how frumpy our heroine is. This falls flat, neither making a point nor propelling the story forward and indeed is not necessary at all. But director David Frankel keeps things focussed after that and even pulls off another nice montage showing the transformation of Sachs. In the end though, I couldn't help but wonder what the movie was about. There are several lessons I wrote down at the back of my wife's Glamor.
  • Success is not worth it unless it's on your own terms
  • Do stand up for yourself
  • Immerse yourself in your environment if you want to excel
  • There is always a way to get something done, however impossible
  • Do be concerned about your coworkers, even if they are bitchy
  • It's important to have work-life balance
  • A scruffy boyfriend with shared history is a better bet than a smooth, successful operator you've just met
Confused? Sure, but this isn't V.S. Naipaul. B+

Anne Hathaway (Andrea Sachs)

I was fairly dismissive of Hathaway until her flawless performance in Brokeback Mountain, a small but tricky role with one very key scene. If her performance seemed natural there, its positively organic here and the trick she pulls is that she shrewdly underplays a role that in the hands of someone with lesser smarts could have felt splintered. Hathaway could become the next Julia Roberts or the next Jodie Foster from here. Either way, she is nimble in this movie and make no mistake, the real reason the movie is such a delicious guilty pleasure. A

Meryl Streep
(Miranda Priestley)
Streep has gotten enough kudos for her performance (and a great shot at an Oscar this year) so I'll keep it short. Ever since she rediscovered her mojo in The Bridges of Madison County, she's barely put a foot wrong. I even enjoyed her comedic turn in the sweet, underrated Prime. Here, she supresses the obvious histrionics and makes her character sharp, intelligent, wholly believable and even worth rooting for. A

Emily Blunt (Emily)
Blunt plays Priestley's primary assistant who is gradually replaced by Sachs in the movie. Its a fairly high profile role for a starlet - she has no character development to aid her, but she gets zingy lines, a handful of important scenes and a good stretch of emotions to take her character through (good stretch given material like this, that is). While there is no denying its a solid performance she's not as exceptional as the buzz would have you believe. B

Stanley Tucci (Nigel)
Tucci is the undersung actor in this movie. He plays a designer who works for Priestley's magazine Runway and the only person doted on by her. He constantly cracked me up while pulling the considerable trick of not trying to be funny at all. A


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Kalyan said...

Aspi I felt the same about this movie.To me this movie will go into best category business education related movies on leadership, arrogance , gender bias (Women at the top in corporate world).This movie is realistic in the sense that most of us should have encountered these kind of bosses at one time or other in their professional life.

Anonymous said...

Awesome review. Very incisive.