Friday, July 07, 2006


The Devil Wears Prada*

The Devil Wears Prada works in short bursts of intensity, but has a tough time making any of it matter much. I’m told that the source novel operates on a similarly inconsequential level of narrative girth, which is a shame, because an insider look at the cutthroat fashion magazine business could benefit from a jaundiced perspective. But director David Frankel and screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (who co-wrote Laws of Attraction) don’t critique or endorse the subject, settling instead for humdrum chic flick ambiguity. Well, somebody had to open against Superman.

Meryl Streep being the thespian goddess she is, her icy riff on the ethics of power as fictionalized Runway editor Miranda Priestly is a beacon of brilliance in a fairly average story, which centers on Anne Hathaway as a wannabe New Yorker with high-minded journalistic intentions. Needless to say, working for Priestly as a low-end assistant provides little in the way of intellectual stimulation. The Big Bad Boss is presumed to be Vogue queen Anna Wintour, who claimed to find the film “entertaining.” Could Hitler have thought as much of The Great Dictator?

Second only to Streep is Stanley Tucci in the role of her faithfully queer advisor. If for no other reason, it is worthwhile seeing Prada for his show-stopping monologue, where he explains the immovably strict system as a necessary means of maintaining their flamboyant creative expression. If only the same process worked for the film.

*A trunctated version of this review was published this week in the New York Press.


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