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il diavolo indossare prada

Some books take the world by storm and they are so bad you wonder why people read them; they are made into a movie and you wonder is this all there is?. Other books you hear about, but don’t read, largely because you realize that they’re little more than frothy fun and you wonder… is the hoopla really all that? (See, especially Jorge Carreon’s review).

Truth be told, the protagonist/author of this novel (which I didn’t read), is probably like me… a very “inept and ungrammatical writer” (as Claire Dederer, the NYTimesBook Review contributor writes).

Instead, I waited for the movie. And it is delicious fun. Overall, the acting is on target: Streep and Tucci are characteristically white hot. Anne Hathaway is what she is, the doe-eyed girl trying to make it as a writer. She’s supposed to be the smart one… yet, you can tell, just like Professor Langdon is little more than Brown himself, Andy is little more than Lauren Weisburger. Were it not for Streep and Tucci (which the art directing for the movie is rather quite good, as well… and the first scene at Runway, as Miranda Priestly walks in, is priceless), the movie would be little more than the disastrously recieved Ready to Wear (which I’d like to see, now that I’ve made this comparison) with a morality tale about integrity and workaholism.

The moral of Devil Wears Prada: you make the choices that determine what your life will be about. You choose to be a sell-out or a person of integrity. And, thankfully for us viewers, our heroine repents of her having sold-out, leaves the world of high-fashion, and lands a job at the New York Mirror, because in college she did a piece on janitor unions (“Just the kind of hard-nosed reporting that institution is interested in”).

But everybody knows the end when they go into the movie—whether or not they’ve read the book, reviews, or what-have-you. Everybody knows that fashion-sense-less Andy will become glam Andy; that can’t spell Gabanna will, by the end, be on a first name basis with several high-end designers; that size 6 couldn’t combine her way out of box, will be a size 4 goddess, walking in the beauty of a night-colored combo she “threw” together. Everybody also knows that, in the end, she will realize that she has sold out, walk-away, throw her phone in the fountain, and return to her so not couture apparel.

The real joy of the movie is watching Streep, who doesn’t raise her voice once… not even when she asks to be flown out of a Florida hurricane that has ground all planes, even Donatella’s, so she can make her daughters’s recital; not even when she asks for a steak at 9 in the morning, or an advanced copy of the unpublished manuscript of Harry Potter.

And, the real moral center of movie is Tucci. Why aren’t positions like his explored more in movies? Yes, I thought it lovely that we have a movie composed of strong female charaters… though, they were all just walking types. And, don’t get me wrong, Tucci too is a type… the effete male, the art director at a fashion magazine with a ring the size of Texas and a heart of gold.

But, in a film that purports to ask questions about the ethics of the work place… that portrays success as not only a selling out but also a selling of one’s personal/family life down the river, why isn’t his position, the position of one trapped by the glass ceiling of his boss’ manipulative ways explored more? Has he sold out? He is doing what he wants to do… he is at the top rung of his profession… no higher can he go, unless he were to go out on his own; and for him to go out on his own, he needs the blessing of the woman who IS fasion.

In the end, Andy’s story is simpler and more gratifying to watch… because she emerges victorious… and we emerge with our consciences washed.

 

Comments

my more cynical side while watching the movie, kept asking… you mean to say you have more integrity because you left and wrote a thinly-veiled novel about it?

Yep, we saw it this weekend, and I was stunned – stunned – by how much I loved it. Streep is rocking my world this summer; between TDWP and PHC, I’m needing a cold shower.

i don’t know you, but i just saw TDWP and am now in the middle of the book so i can’t resist commenting.

i thought the movie was quite good, and, after finishing about a third of the book, think the movie is better. part of the advantage of the movie is the visuals—the clothes, the looks—better to be seen than read about. the book seems poorly edited, and LW writes things that makes me, as a new yorker, think, “what are you talking about???” (24-hour bodegas at 59th & lexington—no way!)

i didn’t think Andy really sold out so much in the movie. what’s wrong with wearing pretty clothes? she looked a lot better. and she should have ditched that boyfriend!

okay—end of the strangers’ two cents. thanks.

richard thanks for the “on the street” knowledge… you are welcome here any time

the question of andy’s sell-out is one of the things that i thought the movie did well…

it presents it so subtly. and, she believes herself not to have sold out (until she is reminded that she undercut emily). all her friends, though, believe she has.

but, at the same time, like andy believes… she’s only doing her job and doing it well. she’s become a good employee. is this selling out? not really...

it’s a conundrum. :)

the conundrum of work... your work is who you are... and all that

Other than to echo J’s welcome to R (Welcome, R!), I have nothing to say except, did you see that TomKat’s spawn is camera shy?

I’m with Richard on the value of Nate: he was too much a slob anyway for her to make it as a writer in NYC.

But you realize that the only reason she sees the light and tosses her phone in the fountain is because she’s from the midwest, right? It’s the Hamlin Garland/Willa Cather story of a girl who moves to NYC to make it bigtime, who realizes power and success then recognizes that she can’t go back to who she was—not entirely, anyway. There’s some (though not much) ambiguity as to whether she’ll goto Boston—in fact, that whole hookup with Nate is a real problem, because it probably buries her chances with her new job…

So yeah, we saw it this afternoon, cooling off in the theater, mid-packing. Good movie. Streep rocked. (Saw PHC last week. Streep… uh, varietied? rocked there, too.)