The Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada is a disingenuous whore of a movie, luring you in with mouth-watering festoons of Moschino, Dolce, and Gaultier, only to send you packing, unfulfilled and chastened in Old Navy.
Anne Hathaway unconvincingly plays dumb-ass Andy, a wide-eyed and poorly dressed Northwestern grad/Manhattan émigré. Andy decides that a job at fashion magazine Runway would be the perfect entry into the rough and tumble world of hard-hitting journalism. Director David Frankel (Sex and the City) misses the rich ironies in this ambition.
Incredibly, the magazine’s Cruella DeVille-like editor, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), hires her. Andy’s duties include fetching coffee, answering phones, and being the butt of endless variations on the observation that she’s a “fat” Size 6 in a Size 0 world.
Predictably, the job stresses Andy’s relationship with her chef-manque boyfriend, Nate (Adrian Grenier), even as one of Nate’s friends notes how men are congratulated for sacrificing their private lives for their careers while women are frowned upon for doing the same. Prada, meanwhile, dedicates itself to reinforcing the rightness of this situation.
As a crucial Paris fashion show approaches, Andy’s nerves whittle her down to a pleasing Size 4, while the challenge of kowtowing to Miranda has her dressing in a mascara-heavy, neo-Yardley-girl manner, which has the distracting side effect of rendering Hathaway’s already sizable orbs comparable to those of Sterile Cuckoo-era Liza Minelli. The reinvented Andy is wooed by literary writer Christian (Simon Baker), who’s so metrosexual that even his eyebrows are highlighted, and whose seduction technique boils down to, “Blow me and I’ll get you in The New Yorker”.
Should Andy remain Miranda’s pony girl? Christian’s girl toy? Return to Nate and toss the Agnes B? Do you really wonder the outcome?
There are surprises in what Prada boldly reveals about the fashion world. For example, it’s predominately run by crazy and/or hot chicks, with only minor assists from flamboyant, sexless males—such as that essayed by Stanley Tucci as Runway’s fashion director, who seems perpetually on the verge of snickering from one of the mag’s better closets, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Streep, meanwhile, really appears to be grooving on her role’s later Joan Crawford-career qualities. Unfortunately, her white-pompadoured queen bitch is given no lines worthy of her camp glower.
Required by box-office requirements to pander witlessly to red staters, Prada reassures its audience that, while beauty is nice, excellence admirable, and glamour buzzy, they all lead to misery. Now that even Will and Grace’s dumbed-down version of queer sensibilities is gone, where will we turn to for a decent bitch fest? Not here.