The Austin Chronicle

The Devil Wears Prada

Rated PG-13, 106 min. Directed by David Frankel. Starring Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci, Adrian Grenier, Tracie Thoms, Rich Sommer, Simon Baker.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., June 30, 2006

Anne Hathaway showed in Brokeback Mountain that she has the acting chops to keep her from getting pigeonholed as a princess diarist. Now graduating from the teen role that built her reputation in the two Princess Diaries films, Hathaway does more of the same in The Devil Wears Prada, the confessional of a young working woman in New York City. Adapted from Lauren Weisberger’s bestselling roman à clef about the year she spent as an assistant to Anna Wintour, the legendarily demanding editor of Vogue, The Devil Wears Prada offers a wicked look into the top tier of the fashion world, a world that makes most of us feel like voyeurs at the big prom. Hathaway plays Andy Sachs, an aspiring journalist who has just graduated from college and moved to New York with her impossibly cute boyfriend (Grenier, of Entourage fame) to begin her career. Somehow she lands an interview at Runway magazine, the bible of fashion, whose editor Miranda Priestley (Streep) has a reputation as a dragon lady. In a very smart move, Streep underplays the part so that her Miranda never needs to raise her voice to get what she wants. If anything, a raised eyebrow depicts the full extent of her displeasure. She exudes the imperiousness of royalty, which comes from her absolute confidence in her position as the ultimate arbiter of all things fashion. Also wonderful is her No. 1 assistant, Emily (Blunt), whose fashion hauteur barely covers her deep insecurities. When the film is in the presence of Streep and Blunt it bubbles like a glass of champagne, barely alcoholic but intoxicating nonetheless. In the meantime, Hathaway gets bogged down in Andy’s dreary story about learning that there’s more to life than selling your soul for a pair of Jimmy Choo’s. She begins the movie as someone who cares not one iota about fashion, but after enough withering comments about how grossly overweight she is as a size 6, Andy succumbs to the pressure. She is helped in putting a new wardrobe together by Runway’s style queen Nigel (Tucci) – one of only two gay men depicted anywhere in this fashion parade, which is also curiously drug-free. In many ways The Devil Wears Prada suffers from some of the same unreality that marred Sex & the City, and perhaps not unrelated is that director Frankel directed at least half-a-dozen episodes of that HBO series. Also, noted costume designer Patricia Field comes to Prada by way of Sex & the City. Like Carrie Bradshaw’s magnificent apartment paid for on a New York columnist’s salary, the implausibility of Andy’s new duds is never broached. In other words, if you shut down your brain and simply take in the wardrobe and performances by Streep and Blunt you’ll have a swell time, like aimlessly flipping the pages of a fashion magazine.

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