We’ve all had the boss from hell, so viewers will definitely be able to relate to the plight of a young junior assistant, in this dramedy that will surely please budding fashionistas and many girls alike.
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Lauren Weisberger, Meryl Streep plays Miranda Priestley, the editor-in-chief of Runway magazine, and the boss everyone loves to hate. Anne Hathaway, probably best-known for her part in Princess Diaries, plays her second assistant Andrea ‘Andy’ Sachs, who struggles between pleasing the evil ‘dragon lady’ and fulfilling her dreams of becoming a reputable journalist. The first assistant Emily is played beautifully by British import Emily Blunt, who in the course of trying to find someone to replace the last assistant Priestly fired, ends up finding someone who unexpectedly outshines her. And another important element not to be forgotten – the clothes – are beautifully picked out by costume designer Patricia Field, also known as the creator of iconic looks seen on the ladies of Sex and the City. They fit in flawlessly, becoming like another character in the movie that draws the viewer in with envy.
The movie is a pleasure to watch, from start to end, with the backdrop of New York City and Paris being every girl’s dream. The acting chops presented on screen by Streep, Hathaway, Blunt, and let’s not forget the overzealous art director played by Stanley Tucci, make the film stand-out as an ensemble cast. The book is a great read, and should definitely not be left out of the equation, but Weisberger’s words transcend beautifully on-screen under the watchful eye of director David Frankel, known for such HBO hits as Entourage and Sex and the City.
Hunched over her desk, Sachs fears Priestly, as she throws her $10,000 designer jackets around like they were yesterday’s trash. From the moment Priestly hires Sachs, she has her pegged as the girl who doesn’t know one blue from another, and in the beginning of the movie, she is right. But by the end, Priestly is somewhat pleased, although underhandedly, when Sachs rises to every single one of the challenges she presents her with, and even steps over another assistant to get ahead. From her humble beginnings, Sachs slowly transforms into the girls in her office whom she hated at first, and it is here that the story seems to get a bit wonky. Sachs gives up quite easily in her quest to get her dream job at the The New Yorker being sucked into the glamorous life of Runway, and into a job that she is constantly reminded a million girls would kill for. However, her overnight transformation is not seamless or believable; new bangs and a leaner body don’t fool anyone. Sachs is someone who prides herself on her morals, and it seems impossible to ever imagine her ever having a bad bone in her body.
But although the cast works well together, there are some standouts, especially Streep’s spot on impersonation of someone who is obviously meant to be Anna Wintour, the infamous editor-in-chief of Vogue. With her perfectly silver-coiffed hair and her designer handbags, Streep seamlessly is Priestly. Streep earned her record 14 Academy Award nomination for Prada, an honour that is well-deserved, especially for a comedy, a genre she hasn’t been this good in since Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Streep, who has years on Hathaway in the acting world, steals the spotlight from her younger counterpart quite easily, and in a way, makes you long to see more of her witty banter. She doesn’t speak much, but is still mean without being too mean and funny without even breaking out into a smile – it is not what she says, but how she says it, an effect that works quite well at drawing the viewer in. Now don’t get me wrong, Hathaway is a talented actress, but it might just be her very believable down-to-earth qualities that make it so hard to imagine her ever being in a position having to deal with someone like Priestly. The movie also delivers great and extremely hilarious dialogue, particularly those spoken by the British Blunt, who at every chance makes sure Sachs knows exactly how lucky she is to even be in the presence of such greatness as Chanel and Marc Jacobs; they are like great punch-lines to every scene she is in. When told she looks great at an event, Emily’s response is not only hilarious, but great social commentary on the fashion world. She proudly states: “I’m one stomach flu away from reaching my goal weight,” like it is an accomplishment, filling out the scene beautifully, and stealing it away from her co-star Hathaway, yet again. She is like a character in the TV shows everyone says they don’t watch, but secretly do in the comfort of their living room; she says what everyone thinks, but might be too afraid to say out loud.
The whole thing that is Prada definitely earns its pop-culture status, and not just for its mixture of new-school Madonna and the constant reminder of how we wish we could be a Fendi purse in Priestly’s closet. It is a great romantic comedy, and a great drama that is funny without trying too hard. Bottom line: the six-dollar movie rental cost is a small price to pay to be in the presence of such greatness as Streep and Prada.