Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sympathy for the Devil

This weekend I watched “The Devil Wears Prada” (spoilers follow, but unless this is your first ever Hollywood movie, you already know how it’s going to end, anyway).

Anne Hathaway plays Andrea Sachs, an earnest young Northwestern University journalism graduate. She moves to New York and manages to land a job as assistant to powerful fashion editor Miranda Priestly, the eponymous Prada wearing devil.

Andrea has no fashion sense whatsoever and even a slight contempt for the fashion industry. This is certainly defensible, but if you are going to work in the fashion industry, you should probably know something about it, like an assistant to the editor of Sports Illustrated should probably know something about sports or the assistant to Atomizer at Fraters Libertas should probably know the difference between gin and vermouth (Note to self: title for that screenplay on my experiences as an intern at Fraters Libertas: “The Devil Drank Bombay Sapphire”).

Yes, I know we’re supposed to hate the demanding and allegedly callous Miranda Priestly, but I can’t help but view her sympathetically. Clearly she has made it to the top of her profession because she demands excellence from herself and those around her. It is not too much to ask to have an assistant who can deliver the cappuccino how she likes it and when she wants it. She doesn’t want to hear whining excuses from her incompetent underlings, and this is supposed to make her evil? As Andrea is told several times, there are many who would kill for the chance to learn from someone like Miranda Priestly and to her credit, Andrea does commits herself to the job and becomes a more than competent assistant. However, the demands of the job create relationship problems for Andrea (she should thank Miranda driving away her loser boyfriend) and here is where this otherwise fine movie, predictably, goes off the rails.

In Hollywood, they consider doing what it takes to be a success in a for-profit business to be “crossing over to the dark side” (at least on the screen they do – Hollywood is no doubt filled at all levels with people who make Miranda Priestly look like a pussycat). It is supposed to be a happy ending when Andrea quits her job, chucks her cell phone into a fountain, makes up with the loser boyfriend, and takes a lame job at some lame newspaper. I found it depressing. I was cheering for Miranda, and for her protégé Andrea to follow in her footsteps, only to be disappointed in the end. Again.

NIHILIST ADDS: Sisyphus and others dissapointed in "Devil" should pick up Kevin Spacey's 1994 film, "Swimming With Sharks." It has a similar plot, but I'm guessing the ending isn't as cutesy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miranda doesn't come off so bad in the movie. Read the book and you'll want to strangle that version of the character yourself.

10:13 PM  
Blogger R-Five said...

It's not a bad movie and/or story, but it's overly hyper in terms of the challenges Sachs is given and the time allowed. Excessive hyperbole (is that an oxymoron?) afflicts far too many films these days.

11:28 PM  
Blogger pikkumatti said...

What struck me about the movie is how selfish the boyfriend was. Hey, it was a big break for the Sachs character to get the job, and she was trying to succeed at it. Meanwhile, Loser is thinking only about himself while he tried to manipulate her by accusing her of selling out.

If this is what is supposed to pass for love in H'Wood these days, I'll pass.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous mberg said...

I think you got Miranda's character wrong (in the movie - I hear the book is different, but haven't read it). She demands excellence, but has her own devils to deal with. When you see what drives her and what made her, she seems less like a cartoon and more like a person who is like she is for a reason.

Pikkumatti - I HATED that boyfriend character. He was the flattest character in the whole movie, the only one I wanted to see run over by a bus to get him out of the way with all his "sell-out" cliches and Mickey Dolenz teddybeariness. Gank. The movie would have been better without him at all.

12:28 PM  

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