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Chick Lit Review of "The Devil Wears Prada" Film
Released in 2006, the film adaptation of Lauren Weisberger's bestselling novel The Devil Wears Prada immediately rose to success.
It follows a young woman, Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) , during her time in New York City as a hopeful, young writer as a high-end fashion guru's (Miranda Priestley, played by Meryl Streep) overworked assistant.
Of course, there are love interests, backstabbing coworkers, and glorious clothes. Naturally, the dowdy Andy transforms into the perfect mini-Miranda, but at what cost?
In this review, I'd like to focus on several key aspects of the film and deconstruct them in socially useful ways (or so I believe).
"The Devil Wears Prada" Movie Trailer
A note on "chick lit"
The mere title of this "genre" of films is something I dislike. Personally, I would consider this more of a Romantic Comedy, but it generally fits into the incredibly popular Chick Lit.
This assumes, one, that it is only for women. Honestly, not even women -- chicks. Chicks are mindless, sappy, doe-eyed women who yearn for male companionship and probably eat too much ice cream. Although I'm sure there are quite a few gals out there that fit this basic outline (hey, I'm crazy about crying and ice cream), it doesn't necessarily give room to our minds. We have them, and they're great! Chick Lit could even parallel the classic novel format of bildungsroman, which almost exclusively pertains to men.
Plus, the "lit" part evokes a sense that the title is part of the long list of books destined for "summer reading" lists. Although this novel does fit that categorization in some ways, it is important to consider this aspect when labeling other titles.
Anyway, let's just remember that we're more than sappy, lovelorn ladies, and many men can and have found this film/novel entertaining.
Part 1: Intelligent outsider enters the inhuman world of fashion magazines to get her foot in the door.
Andy isn't one of the bad guys at the beginning of the film. She's like us, skeptical and hard-working. She wants to make change in the world, but doesn't know how to wield her womanly powers without ruining her image with bad polyester sweaters and Catholic schoolgirl skirts.
She doesn't fit in, and the job is difficult. However, her relationship with her significant other (Nate, played by Adrian Grenier) is going along swimmingly.
Part 2: Andy changes herself to fit her new roles, and her personal life suffers.
Naturally, Andy must change herself in many ways to keep up with her evil coworker Emily (played by Emily Blunt) and heinous, critical boss. Her clothes become far better with the help of the always amazing Stanley Tucci (in the character of Nigel), and she starts to fit into this incredibly fast-paced and challenging world.
Of course, a handsome love interest must enter the picture. Christian Thompson (played by Simon Baker) is a famed author and intellectual who Andy loves. They meet at a party, and the flirtatious cycle begins.
Her "normal" life with boyfriend Nate and bad sweaters begins to wane, and her friends are hurt and upset that she is morphing into a non-version of herself.
However, Andy enjoys her new life, and doesn't see the problem. There's something alluring about the challenge and the highs of success.
Part 3: Andy chooses to be herself, and walks away from the lies.
Despite Andy's great successes during Emily's illness, Andy continues to struggle under the pressure of normal life versus hectic, crazy NYC fashion life.
She has a tete-a-tete with Miranda at one point, where she learns that her drive and skill match Miranda's before her days of terrifying awesomeness.
Andy finally, really learns that "life is full of choices," and makes the decision to live as herself by taking a job at a newspaper and trying to work things out with her boyfriend.
Moral of the Story
In some ways, we can take this as a positive resolution to a morally ambiguous lifestyle. Andy struggled to find herself in this new role, and had to make drastic compromises to succeed.
Despite the fact that Andy could surpass Emily and all of her other, minor league coworkers with her intelligence and ability, she elected to take the more difficult, less concrete and polished life of a newspaper journalist.
This happened by Andy making a choice, which serves as a reminder to us all that our fates in our hands. It's a great, big hurrah to free will, in some ways, with sweet romance and a little naughty edginess.
But, it also says some pretty interesting things about the lives of women. Although I am happy that Andy decided to return to her roots and make the choices she needed to for her own, personal happiness, what does it mean that her personal relationship with Nate had to collapse?
With Christian, she was able to match up with a social powerhouse. He's incredibly intelligent, attractive, and seductive. He has women hanging off of him, and he brought Andy into that position of high sexual volatility.
At the same time, her relationship with low-achieving but sweet Nate plummeted. She can have the high-powered, unachievable man, but now the guy on the opposite side of that spectrum is leaving her.
Because Nate is, categorically, a "good" man, he knows to walk away while Andy plays around with the "bad" man. When Andy's social position rises (historically dangerous for women), her personal happiness leaves through the hands of a man. Unless she walks away from social success, her personal life will not recover.
Yes, Andy's actions are why Nate left, but it is worth remembering the dichotomy noted above as it indicates some interesting dynamics regarding female power and happiness in this film.
Overall Score and Impression
As a piece of entertainment, I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars. It will hold your attention, tap into your desire to know about "the other side," and both Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are wonderful.
Would I watch this again? Probably not unless I was drunk or desperate. It's nothing too significant, and doesn't really build a worldview I can stand behind. Of course, we can and always should seek to find value in everything around us. Just because X is offensive and falls outside of our moral map, that doesn't mean the entire alphabet is bad. Just remember to watch with a grain of salt, and try to focus on the message of female empowerment and free will.
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