The trailer for The Devil Wears Prada was one of the best to follow the annoying big screen commercials that I have seen in a long time. It was original in that instead of the usual parade of scene clips it was one single scene from the film. It didn’t give away the plot or the best jokes. It didn’t give away the ending like many trailers do in this day and age. It just gave us the set up for the film and wet our appetite for more. That’s why it is so disappointing that the film didn’t offer anything more.
The Devil Wears Prada is the story of a young, idealistic Midwestern girl who dreams of being a journalist and goes to work for the pretentious and powerful publisher of the world’s leading fashion magazine only to find out she’s a big bitch. Yes, the plot is as obvious and predictable as that.
However it stars venerable Meryl Streep and the promising Anne Hathaway so I figured there must be something more original than that in this screenplay. It is adapted from a best seller that I haven’t read so I didn’t know that it was going to be as common a story as it was. Maybe if I had been warned I wouldn’t have expected much.
The Devil Wears Prada disappoints because it’s all so easy and obvious. Guess what happens to the principled and smart intern as she faces the callous and shallow dominatrix publisher. See how bitchy she can be!
Meryl Streep does what she can with a role that is really no more than a cliché. She gives Miranda as much sympathy and depth as can be given to a one dimensional character but she is reduced to vamping and posing and throwing out less than impressive one-liners. She gets a couple scenes where she gest to add some depth to the character but come on... is it really that surprising that underneith that steel exterior is an emotionally bruised woman? Cliché! Mostly, she looks tired and hollow. Maybe that’s on purpose but it doesn’t make the film any more watchable.
The best role in the film goes to Stanley Tucci who is able to take another cliché, the gay fashion exec, and make him anything but. He’s not too campy, queeny or sassy and is mostly sensitive and thoughtful. Tucci allows himself to be limp wristed without being a stereotype. With all this obtuse writing, he manages to pull a real character out of the fire.
Hathaway’s not bad but her role is even less well rounded than Streep’s and therefore The Devil Wears Prada doesn’t really give her a moment to shine
Otherwise the movie seems poorly cast. Adrian Grenier (the "star" in Entourage) plays Hathaway’s Midwestern boyfriend despite his exotic looks and sophisticated delivery. We’re supposed to think he’s the rebel against fashion? Simon Baker is equally misplaced as a journalist who romances Hathaway with her dream job but he looks like his eyebrows were pasted on with white glue and his face is caked with makeup. His character also turns from romantic interest to callous cad faster than you can say Calvin Klein.
The Devil Wears Prada will give you everything you expect, unless you expect originality and inspired performances. It also works hard to justify all the shallowness of the industry it limply pretends to be critiquing. This is one fashion show I will not be returning to.