Retro review: The Devil Wears Prada tells two stories

Warning: This review may contain some mild spoilers.

In New York, the simple and naive just-graduated-in-journalism Andrea “Andy” Sachs (Anne Hathaway) is hired to work as the second assistant of the powerful and sophisticated Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), the ruthless and merciless executive and chief editor of the Runway fashion magazine.

It is a job set to fast-track her career in journalism if she can survive a year working for Miranda and a dream job that “a million girls would kill for.” Andrea dreams to become a journalist and faces the opportunity as a temporary professional challenge. The first assistant, Emily (Emily Blunt) advises Andrea about the behavior and preferences of their cruel boss, and the stylist, Nigel (Stanley Tucci) helps Andrea to dress more adequately for the environment. From here, Andy, with no sense of fashion at all, begins a fish-out-of-water drama as she is thrown into a lifestyle full of the fast-paced, three-inch-minimum-heel-height, diet coke and coffee substance abuse.

Andy works really hard to deal with Miranda’s endless unimaginable demands. Andrea changes her attitude and behavior, affecting her private life and the relationships with her boyfriend Nate (Adrien Grenier) and her family and friends. In the end, Andrea learns that life is made of choices.

The genius of this movie is that there are two distinctly different ways to view its storyline and moral.

The first is to see it as an example of how easy it is for people to lose their integrity when they land in a bad environment and how wrong it is for bosses to treat their employees poorly. In this version of the story, Andy reluctantly takes a job as assistant to the editor of a prominent fashion magazine even though she wants to be a serious journalist.

As time goes on, she forgets what is important in life–for example, she misses her boyfriend’s birthday party because she has to work late, puts up with the unreasonable demands of her tyrannical boss at any hour of day or night, starts to enjoy the shallow pursuit of dressing well, loses her sense of humor, betrays her boyfriend by flirting with an attractive writer at a party, and agrees to her boss’ request that she replace her co-assistant on a trip to Paris even though her colleague has been dreaming of the trip for months.

The magazine editor, Miranda Priestly, in this version is a cold, self-absorbed and calculating boss-from-hell who enjoys tormenting the people who work for her and cares only about outer beauty. In the end of this story, Andy regains her principles, summons up the courage to quit her horrid job at the meaningless fashion magazine, goes to work for a newspaper where she can make a difference in the world, gives away her couture outfits and goes back to not paying an overly large amount of attention to how she looks, and demonstrates in various ways that she, once again, cares about other people.

In the other story, Meryl Streep’s character is an extremely talented fashion editor who is under tremendous pressure to make her magazine successful artistically and commercially. She is obsessive about her work because she cares about it and because she knows that she must do it extremely well in order to keep her position. She feels that her work is meaningful because it holds up an entire economic industry that includes mainstream as well as couture clothing and because it helps people of all sorts to enjoy life more.

She believes that no one can do her job as well as she can, and she probably is right. She puts a huge amount of time into her job (losing two husbands and missing out on important time with her daughters as a result), and demands that the people who work for her show at least a fraction of her own dedication to their jobs as well as help to make her life a little easier. Because she is a perfectionistic and under time pressure, she expects the people around her to be ultra-competent at all times and throws out chilly little comments when she feels her employees are not doing a good job or especially wasting her extremely precious time.

She knows how business works as well as how to use her power in order to get what she needs in order to create a high-quality magazine and, in a cut-throat business, keep her job. At one point, she hurts her most valued employee in order to keep herself from being fired, but it seems likely that she will help him to obtain other opportunities in the future. She is aware that the people who work for her are scared to death of her and that her general reputation is that of an icy terror, but she can’t figure out how to do her job well plus have people like her.

She also fails at all attempts to explain to other people why she acts as she does. After Andy (whom she thinks of as her protege) quits, she is disappointed that the promising young woman decided to opt out of a career in the fashion business. Nonetheless, she is impressed and pleased that Andy is successfully seeking out her own chosen path in life, and helps her to do so by giving her a stellar letter of recommendation. In this reading of the story, the magazine editor is a tragic character of classic dimensions, in that she is not able to sustain relationships or obtain understanding from people around her while exercising her substantial professional and creative gifts.

This film develops more than just the fashion industry, as it focuses and relates to any and all jobs in the world that you would want to go after. It shows a great resemblance on how high the demands are in these kinds of jobs.

The Devil Wears Prada is a sort of dramatic comedy, with magnificent performances and a great final message. Meryl Streep is fabulous, as usual, in the role of a cruel bitch; Anne Hathaway is excellent and very beautiful performing the naive and sweet Andrea, a girl who sells her soul to the devil, but returns to her origins and principle; and Emily Blunt is also great in the role of the caustic and jealous colleague of Andrea.

I thoroughly enjoy watching this movie each and every time whenever I can.

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