The International Writers Magazine: Reviews

The Devil Wears Prada (2006, 20th Century Fox),
Directed by David Frankel

Starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep
Gabriela Davies

In their shoes.If you can’t beat them, join them, that’s what they say. That’s what Andy Sachs does in "The Devil Wears Prada" (20th Century Fox, 2006), when she sells her soul to the devil for the first time by putting on a pair of Chanel stilettos (and I’m not giving away any twists here).

Lauren Weisberger’s big hit novel turns eager tube-reading followers of the fashionista cult into a mass mob of hungry eyes for the movie screen. So is there something different about Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), who finds herself stuck in the middle of fashion inferno when she gets the job a million girls would die for?

When "The Devil Wears Prada" begins, you know what’s coming. Yellow cabs, high-rise buildings, a display of Starbucks coffee cups and white iMac computers. This is New York. And that same old story that’s been told before. Young, twenty-something, eager girl/boy tries to make it big. We saw it in Wall Street, the 1987 classic with Charlie Sheen. We saw it in Coyote Ugly (2000). We saw the same Anne Hathaway playing a young, naive victim of fashion in "The Princess Diaries" (2001), only to be transformed into a diamond-wearing princess by Julie Andrews.

If you’re looking for the latest Prêt à Porter (Robert Altman’s 1994 film), you will be disappointed. The director David Frankel goes for the typical Hollywood formula, giving us a hint of fashion cinematography, such as the traditional catwalk tricks. But he doesn’t push this style to the end; the film is mostly shot in such a traditional way that you might as well be watching Sleepless in Seattle. One might get the impression that there was a bigger concern for product-placement than for post-production editing. Some continuity errors show this, as well as the bad colour correction in some night shots. This does not really pose as a problem, as viewers of this film will either be eager to soak up all the brand promotion, or simply be interested in 109 minutes of mindless escapism.

Meryl Streep gives a very believable, Cruella de Ville-esque performance as the beacon of fashion editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly. The rest of the cast tags along behind, and the only thing that will be in your head after you’ve left the cinema (apart from the clichéd soundtrack: Madonna’s ‘Vogue’) is her monotonal voice saying, "That’s all". Don’t expect Oscar-winning performances.

Expect lots of panning shots of a New York City zebra crossing with Manolo-wearing, Starbuck-drinking, Prada-carrying über-skinny girls parading across. Expect a full-on Bridget Jones turns into Holly Golightly style makeover scene. Expect Meryl Streep in Prada pumps, Anne Hathaway giving into the Chanels. Expect shoes, lots of shoes. And by the end, even you will be wanting to wear them. That’s all.

 © Gabriela Davies Oct 17th 2006


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