Sure, “The Devil Wears Prada,” was released quite a while ago, but its message is one we can all keep in mind as we venture into yet another new year. Based on Lauren Weisberger‘s novel of the same name, “The Devil Wears Prada” attempts to crack the fantasy surrounding the fashion industry by portraying it as a cutthroat, unfeeling industry where people do whatever they need to do to achieve their own means, even if it means trampling over the dreams of others. While it does lure the viewer in the beginning with the glitz and glamour of the fashion world, ultimately, it shows that regardless of how glamorous an occupation is, it is not worth sacrificing your health or your relationships.
Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), a recent college graduate, lands “a job a million girls would kill for”–the second assistant to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), the legendary editor-in-chief of the fashion magazine Runway, the movie’s equivalent of Vogue. However, the prized job is far from ideal. Andy’s tasks include finding “that piece of paper” Miranda had in her hand the previous morning and procuring the unpublished manuscript of the new Harry Potter book in four hours–impossible errands that are all overseen by Miranda’s icy first assistant Emily (Emily Blunt). On top of it all, Andy’s family, friends and boyfriend, oblivious to the world of fashion, fail to understand the importance of her job. Her only solace comes from Nigel (Stanley Tucci), Runway’s art director, who begrudgingly takes on the role of fairy godmother and transforms Andy from a drab, granny-skirt-donning Midwesterner to a chic, designer-clad New Yorker.
The movie’s costumes certainly add to the appeal of Andy’s job and help the audience understand why she is so reluctant to quit. Although there isn’t much Prada, there is an abundance of Chanel and other designers. The fashion closet looks like heaven on Earth, teeming with blinding sequins, vibrantly colored silks, exquisite furs and every other type of luxury item imaginable. Costume designer Patricia Field’s beautifully constructed outfits add to the believability of the movie and are sure to draw in audiences on their own.
Along with her improving sense of style, Andy’s ability to appease Miranda’s demands also increases. However, Andy’s personal relationships become progressively strained. Hathaway convincingly portrays Andy’s struggle, not wanting to relinquish the glamour and benefits that her job entails or her personal life.
It is not because of Hathaway’s performance, however, that the audience is convinced of the movie’s message–rather, it is Streep, Blunt, and Tucci’’s impeccable portrayals of their characters. Due to the commitment that being the most influential person in fashion requires, Miranda is forced to compromise her familial and domestic life, with her relationships continuously failing due to the time she spends working; Streep captures perfectly Miranda’s passion for her work and her consequent sadness at her damaged personal life.
Blunt flawlessly conveys the fanatical devotion Emily has to her job; she starves herself, only allowing herself a cube of cheese when she feels as though she is about to faint, and her thoughts revolve solely around her job. Tucci plays a similar character, and his skillful acting hints at the misery he is suppressing under his workaholism. However, neither receives their due because someone else takes what they deserve for their own benefit.
“The Devil Wears Prada” effectively reveals the not-so-glamorous reality of seemingly “perfect” jobs and proves that, regardless of its benefits, a job is only a job, and not the dominant force in a person’s life.