Written by: Aline Brosh McKenna
Starring: Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci, Simon Baker, Emily Blunt
Jobs and careers typically revolve around the same topic but have widely debated definitions because of the current landscape of the American workforce. A job pays the bills while a career has the general acceptance of it being the role one will have for the rest of their working life, which tends to bring meaning and/or passion. Finding the balance of what these money-earning endeavors are for individuals becomes a struggle for anyone starting out and no other place seems to have a more difficult time in providing it than the magazine company in The Devil Wears Prada.
Fresh out of graduating from Northwestern, Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) cannot land a journalism position in New York and settles for working as an assistant for the editor-in-chief of Runway Magazine, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). This position traditionally has high turnover because of the demands of Priestly, which challenges Andy in how seriously she takes this job and what it means for her to be a working woman.
A cultural hit and rightfully so, The Devil Wears Prada tells an entertaining but also meaningful story about women in the workplace and how it impacts all facets of their lives. At first, Andy approaches this position as something she just has to go through in order to build connections in the journalism industry and get a serious job. She doesn’t care about fashion and scoffs at all the women invested in their looks and the industry overall. A sentiment that gets straightened out from the onset when working with Miranda. As Andy ingratiates herself into this role and the hours required to succeed, it begins to expose the people around her for the support they are willing to provide and when.
Much of the conversation surrounding this film comes from the relationships Andy has with her boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier) and other friends Lily (Tracie Thoms) and Doug (Rich Sommer). In the beginning, they have a loving connection and enjoy dunking on the people Andy complains about, but things begin to shift when the protagonist puts in more time and effort into this role. This takes away from time spent with her friends along with the way she acts and dresses, which begins to expose the fickle nature of the conditional support these friends have for Andy. The Devil Wears Prada walks the fine line of displaying the unsupportive behavior of the relationships but rarely does the narrative confront it. The toxicity has been taken from the film by those who have watched it, but the story seems to agree with the friends because it never has a moment where Andy truly confronts them on the subject. It becomes challenging to credit the film for having this discussion, especially when it shows Andy come crawling back after missing her boyfriend’s birthday party. Again, it would be one thing to miss a child’s birthday party but the idea of missing a grown man’s birthday party because of something out of Andy’s control is baffling at best. The film brings it up but lands on the wrong side of the discussion because Andy did find the drive in her work and she became villainized for it.
The reason for it comes from working for Miranda Priestly. Someone built up to be this monster but just proves to have different priorities in life. She has a particular way of doing things and anyone who becomes even the slightest hindrance will be dispensable to her. This sort of character, in most films, gets portrayed as a boisterous man, but Miranda stands out as completely different. Instead, she’s incredibly soft-spoken, almost in a whisper in the way she demands things. Her tone, however, cannot be mistaken as soft, as she has no issues ripping people to shreds with a simple “that’s all.” Talk about economy of vocabulary when making someone feel bad about their performance. Meryl Streep completely owns this role, unsurprisingly, to a degree where it honestly became my favorite performance of hers. Sure, she’s spellbinding in Sophie’s Choice and Kramer vs. Kramer, but she wields something different as Miranda Priestly. She wraps up this vicious personality under a truly human person trying to thrive in a world where women get disposed of for the pettiest of reasons. Priestly represents one of Streep’s most important characters because of what she represents and the typical excellence she provides certainly elevates the film.
For all the seriousness this review has highlighted from this film, it cannot be forgotten that The Devil Wears Prada is such a fun and enjoyable movie. It brings the audience into the fashion journalism world to show how people elevate in the industry and everything it takes to create and market even the simplest sweater. Stanley Tucci portrays a designer in the way only Tucci can and builds a lovely friendship with Andy, as she begins her ascent in her position. Emily Blunt portrays the co-worker/rival of Andy and she has plenty of fun in the role as well, which became her breakout. Plenty of genuinely funny and insightful comments about the pressures of the industry makes its way through along with the larger discussion topics spoken of before. So much to enjoy with its incredible cast and a strong message about women in the workforce, this film serves as a delightful time I can easily recommend to anyone.