Devil Wears Prada : Review

NO man is a hero to his valet. So the saying goes, or used to go, since few men these days actually have valets. But a great many people, men and women alike, heroic at least in their own estimation, have assistants, who scurry after coffee and dry cleaning, endure bursts of foul temper, bask in tiny glimmers of generosity and dream, for long hours at low wages, of revenge.

For the legions who have suffered the caprice and cruelty of a tyrannical boss, "The Devil Wears Prada,"Lauren Weisberger's best-selling roman à clef about a bright young woman's brief period of servitude at a fashion magazine, provides the satisfaction of vicarious payback.

Its portrait of Miranda Priestly, the imperious editor of a glossy rag called Runway, is a collage of unforgiven slights and unforgotten grudges, glued to the page with pure, righteous venom. Ms. Weisberger's moral was simple, and hard to dispute: Nobody, however glamorous, successful or celebrated, has the right to treat another person the way Miranda treats her assistants, in particular the narrator, an eager Ivy Leaguer named Andy (short for Andrea) Sachs.

But now that "The Devil Wears Prada" is a movie, starring Anne Hathaway as Andy, the lesson is not quite so unambiguous.

I will leave the business of point-by-point comparison to scholars, who will duly note that the screenwriter, Aline Brosh McKenna, and the director, David Frankel, have reimagined a few characters, discarded some plot developments and implanted others, and switched Andy's alma mater from Brown to Northwestern. When these specialists convene a learned panel to discuss their findings, a vigorous debate is likely to emerge. Does the movie, especially in the way it imagines Miranda, betray the novel or correct it?

The literary Miranda is a monster. Ms. Weisberger, restricting herself to Andy's point of view and no doubt giving voice to her own loathing of the real-life editor on whom Miranda is modeled, resisted the temptation to make her villain a complex (or even a terribly interesting) character. But the screen Miranda is played by Meryl Streep, an actress who carries nuance in her every pore, and who endows even her lighthearted comic roles with a rich implication of inner life. With her silver hair and pale skin, her whispery diction as perfect as her posture, Ms. Streep's Miranda inspires both terror and a measure of awe.

No longer simply the incarnation of evil, she is now a vision of aristocratic, purposeful and surprisingly human grace. And the movie, while noting that she can be sadistic, inconsiderate and manipulative, is unmistakably on Miranda's side. How, really, could it be otherwise? In Hollywood, for one thing, an abused assistant is, like a Toyota Prius, an indispensable accessory — an entitlement, really — for anyone who even wants to seem powerful. And while the film makes some gestures of sympathy toward the underlings, it does not stray too far into class-conscious hypocrisy.

Quite the contrary. It is a movie unapologetically, or maybe semi-apologetically, fascinated with power. The worlds of high fashion and slick journalism, a convenient backdrop for Ms. Weisberger's Gothic fable of captive innocence, are here held up for knowing, fetishistic delectation. In this version the vicarious thrill is not payback but rather conspicuous consumption: all those lovingly photographed outfits and accessories, those warehouses' worth of Chanel and Jimmy Choo, those skinny women decked out (by the tirelessly inventive Patricia Field) in expensive finery.

"The Devil Wears Prada" does exactly what the real-life counterparts of Runway magazine do every month, which is to deliver the most sumptuous goods imaginable — or fantasy images of them, in any case — to the eager eyes of the masses. And why not? Mr. Frankel, who directed many episodes of "Sex and the City" (and who is a son of Max Frankel, a former executive editor of The New York Times), knows just how to infuse a spectacle of refinement and exclusivity with a feeling of democratic good cheer.

He and Ms. McKenna also know how to mock without sneering, and how to acknowledge that fashion is a serious business without taking it too seriously. Several carefully staged, pointedly written scenes defend Miranda on feminist grounds. Other moments reveal her vulnerability, and she occasionally takes time from her daily routine of spreading fear and anxiety wherever she goes to extend meaningful and sympathetic glances in Andy's direction. She also explains that while her kingdom of couture may seem like a shallow and trivial place, it is also a domain where power, money and art commingle to influence the choices and aspirations of women everywhere.

Andy may think that her drab blue cable-knit sweater is an emblem of virtue, a sign that she can't be bothered with the superficial obsessions that drive Runway, but Miranda insists otherwise, and the movie supports her view. Further tributes to Miranda's genius — and to the glorious tradition of journalism she represents — are offered by Nigel (Stanley Tucci), her loyal lieutenant, who becomes Andy's friend and protector. That awful sweater is soon replaced by a series of glorious ensembles presented in one of many swirling, breathless montage sequences, all of which drive home the point that fabulous clothes are, well, fabulous. And who will argue?

A few people try, notably Andy's boyfriend, Nate (Adrian Grenier), an aspiring chef who mopes into view every now and then to remind her that she's losing sight of the things that really matter. Tell it to Gourmet, pal. Mr. Grenier, who effortlessly incarnates the shallow hedonism of the celebrity culture every Sunday night on "Entourage," is maybe not the best guy to be giving lectures about the ultimate hollowness of fashion and fame. And in any case Nate doesn't seem to mind the sexy lingerie that Andy brings home from the office.

The scenes in which Andy is warned that she is straying from her down-to-earth, nice-girl values are flimsy to the point of insincerity. And Ms. Hathaway, even made over with shiny bangs, flawless makeup and toe-squeezing footwear, is nowhere near as interesting to watch as Mr. Tucci, who has never been better, or Ms. Streep, whose perfectionism has rarely seemed so apt. Nor, for that matter, does Ms. Hathaway hold the screen against Emily Blunt, the British actress ("My Summer of Love") whose portrayal of Emily, Miranda's senior minion and Andy's office rival, is a minor tour de force of smiling hostility.

Ms. Hathaway shakes off her blandness only toward the end, when, in a climactic trip to Paris, Andy is drawn perilously close to her boss's chilly flame, and where her intermittent flirtation with a rakish magazine writer (Simon Baker) gathers steam. But for most of the movie Andy is a cipher, whose function is to bring us closer to Miranda, the devil we are, after all, dying to know. In the movies no valet can be a hero. And in "The Devil Wears Prada," it turns out, vengeance belongs to Miranda Priestly. "The Devil Wears Prada" is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It has strong language and sexual situations. The Devil Wears Prada

Opens today nationwide. Directed by David Frankel; written by Aline Brosh McKenna, based on the novel by Lauren Weisberger; director of photography, Florian Ballhaus; edited by Mark Livolsi; music by Theodore Shapiro; production designer, Jess Gonchor; costume designer, Patricia Field; produced by Wendy Finerman; released by 20th Century Fox. Running time: 106 minutes. WITH: Meryl Streep (Miranda Priestly), Anne Hathaway (Andy Sachs), Stanley Tucci (Nigel), Emily Blunt (Emily), Simon Baker (Christian Thompson) and Adrian Grenier (Nate).

ANALYSIS : The critic has started the review with a saying or a proverb which grabs attention of the reader. Since the movie is based on a book, the writer talks about the book and the main characters in it. Then the writer compares the book and the movie, if any changes have been made or improvisation has been done. How they have reimagined a few characters, discarded some plot developments and implanted others in order to make the movie more interesting and to the point. Before starting with the plot summary, the writer gives a short introduction of the main characters and ends the paragraph with a question about the story of the movie.

The writer then gives a short summary of the movie, and since the movie is fashion related, he talks about the clothes and accessories used and the brands of clothing used and shown during the movie. The critic then talks about the direction and how the writer has developed the characters. And also talks about how the actors have played the roles and done justice to the characters and then mentions if the movie was liked by the audience or not. The critic concludes the review by giving information about the director, producer, cast etc., and the running time of the movie.

REVIEW 2 : By, Canadian Wunderkind For the past month or so, I have been eagerly awaiting this movie. I love Meryl Streep, I like Anne Hathaway, I though the world of magazine publishing could make a great setting for a movie, and I thought the premise of the book 'The Devil Wears Prada' had a lot of movie potential.

So, now that I've seen it, I have to say it is one of the funniest movies I've seen this year. The screenwriter has maintained everything that was funny about the book, as well as chucked a lot of the duller subplots, and has formulated a movie that is a great deal more enjoyable than the book. I'm sure you're all familiar with the basic premise - naive small-town girl comes to the big city hoping to be a journalist, and gets a job as assistant to Miranda Priestly, the much-feared editor of 'Runway' magazine (a thinly veiled take on 'Vogue' magazine, and its editor).

Thankfully, the cast was almost perfect (though I did think Simon Baker was somewhat miscast at the rakish writer who takes a liking to the protagonist, Andrea), and elevated the movie to a level it would not have otherwise reached. Meryl Streep is absolutely amazing as Miranda Priestly, and I especially liked the way that, as Miranda, she never raised her voice above normal speaking level. Streep has said she based this mannerism on Clint Eastwood, who as Dirty Harry talks very quietly but still intimidates.

This made Miranda much more interesting than the stereotypical, screaming gorgon she could have become. She is certainly the best thing about this movie, and I think the odds are good that she'll score a best-actress nod at the next Oscars. Miranda is also made more complex (and slightly more sympathetic) than in the book, which I thought was very good. In the book, which I recently read, the author (who actually worked as an assistant to 'Vogue' editor Anna Wintour) was very bitter and whiny about the difficulties of her former job, and she made Miranda out to be a totally two-dimensional villain with absolutely no redeeming qualities.

However, the movie shows us (briefly) a different side of Miranda - we see the compromises she has had to make to get to the top, and we see the toll this has taken on her personal life. We aren't made to agree with her diva-like behaviour, but we can understand how hard her life must be. I also thought that Anne Hathaway was very appealing in her role - she made Andrea more likable and less snobbish than she was in the book (although the screenwriter deserves credit for that, as well), and she looked great in the couture she wore through most of the movie.

The supporting players were also very good, especially Emily Blunt (as Andrea's caustic fellow assistant, Emily) and Stanley Tucci (as Miranda's loyal but beleaguered right-hand man, Nigel). On many occasions, they stole scenes from the ostensibly 'central' character of Andrea. The movie, while maintaining the book's premise, does not follow the book too closely, which I liked. The entire 'Lily' subplot from the book is eliminated (readers of the book will know what I mean), and Andrea's parents and boyfriend are less significant in the movie than in the book. I agreed with these changes, though - I found those aspects of the book to be quite boring, and their omission made for a more streamlined movie.

I strongly recommend this movie to virtually anyone, and I just hope "The Nanny Diaries" (another somewhat-similar 'chick lit' movie adaptation, coming out soon with Scarlett Johannson, that I am eagerly awaiting) lives up to the shining example of this excellent movie.

ANALYSIS : The writer starts writing in an informal way how he/she was waiting eagerly for the movie as the book was interesting and how he/she liked the cast. The writer then talks about how the book has been made into a movie and how the screenwriter has made the movie better than the book by editing all the boring parts and showing the interesting parts in an entertaining way. The critic then starts with the plot summary of the movie.

And if the characters have done justice to the roles they played and how the characters have been improvised from the book to the movie and also the couture used for the characters. The writer concludes the review by talking about how big changes are made to the book.

REVIEW 3 : The Devil Wears Prada struck me much like the industry that provides its backdrop – pure surface, well promoted and unabashedly convinced of its own importance. If this was in fact the point of the piece, it is an absolute success. Otherwise, this highly-publicized film is painfully predictable and merely another incarnation of a plug-in script whose story arc has been traversed over and over . . .

and over. Let's see, it goes something like this; basically decent, idealistic, young (man/woman) goes to (New York/Chicago/Los Angeles/D.C.) to make his/her mark in (writing/business/music/acting/government) only to be temporarily seduced by the very environment/person they are the antithesis of, alienating his/her(boyfriend/girlfriend/family/friends/all of the above) in the process until he/she stumbles on to the revelation, "To thine own self be true." Devil is all of this. . . again.

Only the trendy names being dropped have been updated for those who find that sort of thing significant enough to make them believe this is somehow a different story. The characters, as written, are equally as plugged-in and predictable. The film is only watchable because of the efforts of three actors. Streep is superb -- as always -- as Miranda Priestly, the self-absorbed, career-obsessed and patently unpleasant publishing mogul.

Every incredulous look and pursed lip is right on the mark. She is not however, showing us anything we haven't been shown before – either about her acting or about women at the top. Even Miranda's obligatory "vulnerability scene" is thin and comes too late in the film to matter. By the time we witness what angst she is capable of, we really don't care. We are left with less a feeling of empathy than a sense of justice. (If you want to see her be truly chilling and ruthless, check out the remake of Mancherian Candidate.)

Likewise, Emily Blunt, as Miranda's first assistant, does a wonderful job as an insecure, over compensating slave to someone else's expectation. Her portrayal is cattily on target and provides the requisite foil to our heroine's wide-eyed innocence. Performance-wise this is commendable, but it leaves the audience with next to nothing to like about her character. The dilemma here is that the film presents her (as well as the character of Miranda) in such a way that we have this nagging feeling maybe we are supposed to like her in some way – and yet, we don't.

This creates even more of a dilemma later on when Andrea – our supposedly intelligent, perceptive and grounded protagonist, played forgettably by Anne Hathaway-- makes attempts to befriend these two soulless women. Many are left to perceive her gestures as a weak and irritating need to be liked rather than any real nobility of character. The one true bright spot of the film is Stanley Tucci, as Nigel, who once again seems to infuse a refreshing dimension and humanity to a character that was probably not written that way. He continues to amaze.

Cinematically, The Devil was a small-screen script seemingly shot for the small screen. It no doubt will look stunning when it reaches HBO to be embraced by all those starving fans of Sex in the City and many others who believe that haute couture must surely be the apex of man's cultural accomplishments and that watching insensitive, catty women snipe at each other is actually entertaining. Billed as a "comedy/drama," the film was never very touching and only mildly amusing.

There were no new insights or honest laughs -- the kind you share with friends about the mutually-experienced absurdities of life. No. The audience responses were more like those sophisticated, obligatory snickers that you exchange over lattes with people you don't really know that well -- and are reasonably certain you wouldn't want to spend time with again.

ANALASYS : The writer starts the review by giving his opinion about the movie, whether he thought the movie was entertaining and did justice to the book and whether the movie was a success or not. He then starts with the plot summary describing the nature of each character. And if the actors have played the roles well and if they have been successful in portraying the characters. The critic talks about how the story gets the viewer hooked and is interesting. The writer then talks about the cinematography of the movie and the couture as it is a fashion related movie and then concludes the review by talking about the movie on the whole, if it was a success and if the audience liked the movie.