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Monday, October 26, 2020

Hollywood Rewind | The Devil Wears Prada: An entertaining, intelligent peek into the fashion world

There a number of things going for The Devil Wears Prada. And of course, having a Meryl Streep lead the film helps its case by leaps and bounds.

Written by Anvita Singh | New Delhi | Updated: December 14, 2019 10:45:22 am
meryl streep and anne hathaway The Devil Wears Prada was helmed by David Frankel.

The Devil Wears Prada movie cast: Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci, Emily Blunt, Simon Baker
The Devil Wears Prada movie director: David Frankel
The Devil Wears Prada movie rating: 4 stars

For a long time, I had thought of the Meryl Streep-Anne Hathaway starrer The Devil Wears Prada as only a chick-lit (I have heard that the book it is based on is also described as such. I have not read it). However, upon a recent viewing, I realised that apart from being a thorough entertainer, the film also has a couple of thought-provoking sequences which forces you to question why sometimes people diss fashion as a flimsy, frivolous thing. There is one Meryl Streep monologue specifically that draws attention to this. But more on that later.

The Devil Wears Prada is based on the book of the same name penned by Lauren Weisberger, who chronicled her experiences as a personal assistant to Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour in a fictional format via the book. The assistant in the movie is played by Anna Hathaway, who wanted to work in the ‘real’ publishing world but somehow ends up at the fashion magazine Runway. Meryl Streep plays the Anna Wintour inspired character called Miranda Priestly who is an intimidating, powerful personality. The kinds who has so much on her plate that she cannot remember her employees’ names. Stanley Tucci is the in-house art director Nigel Kipling, while the talented Emily Blunt essays the role of Emily Charlton, another one of Miranda’s assistants.

There are so many wonderful things about the film. The costumes of course, but even the dialogue and the performances are top-notch. Being a ‘fashion movie’, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it also does not lampoon the field. Director David Frankel somehow treads the fine line between both. Remember what I had previously mentioned about a Meryl Streep monologue in the film? The famous ‘cerulean monologue,’ where Miranda teaches a smug and self-important Andrea (Anne Hathaway) that despite being ‘indifferent’ to fashion ‘stuff’, even the colour of her sweater is determined by the people who run the multi-billion dollar industry. As they say these days, ‘epic stuff’.

“This…Stuff”? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select , I don’t know that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you are trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, its not turquoise. It’s not lapis. Its actually cerulean…However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and its sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact you’re wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff,” Miranda goes on to say in one of the most defining moments of pop culture cinema.

The bitter truth of every field, when one tramples over a beloved colleague or friend to secure a better place for themselves in the industry, the hard work and expense that goes into making glam look glam, the changing loyalties and ultimately discovering yourself. These are some of the basic themes of this feature and while expounding on these subjects, never once does the film makes you feel bored or exhausted. This is also cinema, where content marries commerce; not in the brainless, loud fashion that we so often see these days, but in a more sensible, intelligent way. And then the movie also talks of the male ego, the insecurities that emerge in a relationship when a person is more successful than their partner. And in case you were wondering, of course The Devil Wears Prada features a classic Anne Hathaway makeover montage, The Princess Diaries (part one) style. However, what is perhaps most interesting thing about the film is that it doesn’t exactly show Miranda the Boss as Miranda the Devil, whatever the title might suggest. Sure, she is manipulative and demanding. But she is also the editor-in-chief of an extremely successful fashion magazine. But the movie and Meryl do not demonise the character. She does what she does in an order to do her job, and she is not doing something illegal whilst doing so, so why the negativity?

Hollywood Rewind: The Matrix | Creed | Mulan | Ratatouille | Shutter Island | Her | Dead Poets Society | Sleepless in Seattle | Waitress | Pride and Prejudice | The Dark Knight | Before Sunset | School of Rock | About a Boy | A Few Good Men | 50/50 | Begin Again | Brooklyn | Drive | Chocolat | Batman Begins | 10 Things I Hate About You | The Departed | Freedom Writers | Pretty Woman | Dan in Real Life | Jurassic Park | TangledMeet Joe Black | Monster’s Ball | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | You’ve Got Mail | Half Nelson | Fight Club | Doubt | American Psycho | Julie and Julia | Forrest Gump | The Silence of the Lambs | Finding Neverland | Roman Holiday| American History X | Tropic Thunder | Before Sunrise | Scent of a Woman | Finding Forrester | Sixteen Candles

Meryl had earlier revealed in an interview with Vanity Fair why she chose to do the film and play Miranda the way she did. “The Devil Wears Prada was written about Anna Wintour from the point of view of someone who worked for her. It’s a version of her, not necessarily accurate or whatever, a piece of fun fiction, ‘chick lit.’ Embedded in it . . . is what the perceived deficits are of women in a leadership position. Chief among them is to expect women to be endlessly empathetic, a sense of employees’ discomfiture that she doesn’t give a shit, all the things that they would not ask of a male boss,” the actor said.

The Devil Wears Prada is streaming on Hotstar.

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