Devil in the new dress?
Is 'Prada' about selling out, growing up, or just some really pretty clothes?
As the credits were rolling, I turned to my friend and said, 'I'm not sure how I feel about this movie.' He replied that it's a film about 'prostituting one's principles.'
I didn't agree. I told him that's what the moviemakers wanted me to think, but I don't think that's it at all or at least not all of it.
What happens next is a la '12 Angry Men' in which Henry Fonda persuades the other 11 jurors to change their minds and not convict the defendant.
I tried to convince my friend that Andy (the female protagonist played by Anne Hathaway) did not change her basic good nature to be sucked into the 'dark side' of the evil fashion world. Rather, I argued, she was trying to survive in an insulated, self-aggrandized, inflated ego-driven environment where the chief leader is a dictatorial, tyrannical, and autocratic despot who just happens to wear the aforementioned Prada.
Richly layering conflict upon conflict, 'The Devil Wears Prada' is sure to incite many a philosophical debate as to the merits of continuing to work for such a meanie.
The reason my friend felt Andy abrogated her principles was the moviemakers made it very clear her friends were unhappy with her choices and felt they 'didn't know her anymore' and that she wasn't the wholesome Northwestern University journalism graduate ingénue anymore.
I argued that given she's gainfully employed in a fashion industry where her boss is the editor-in-chief of the nation's leading fashion magazine, she better darn-well tootin' dress the part and ditch the checkered school-uniform attire. She's representing the company and her boss to the world, so she must look professional.
Ok, what about the long hours she's putting in, he said. She doesn't seem to have time for her boyfriend anymore.
Well, as a personal assistant, isn't that what the job is about? It's not unreasonable to assume long hours, coffee on demand, and get me fill-in-the-blank yesterday. So don't you think her friends are a wee bit jealous by her success?
She's looking more professional and doing her job competently with grace and confidence. As for the boyfriend, he's a chef in a busy restaurant so he should understand long hours. And didn't you find it odd he really didn't have anything positive to say about her success, and he's the one who broke up with her?
But I will concede there are fastidious, unreasonable, and vindictive bosses (some of you have had them) and Andy's boss, Miranda Priestly, played to absolute perfection by Meryl Streep, is such a creature.
My friend slowly began to see my side. Ah, but wait, she was invited to Paris for the big fashion show instead of the other assistant, who'd been planning all year for this event. Isn't that a sign of manipulative back-stabbing?
I replied that Andy didn't ask to go to Paris, and she did nothing untoward to do so. She went because Miranda felt she would make a better representative and to reward her for her hard work, but, I will admit that Miranda herself was underhanded and not above playing the blackmail card in 'persuading' Andy to go.
And, later on, Andy proved her loyalty to Miranda by trying to warn her of a magazine coup. Doesn't that prove Andy is principled?
So what's 'The Devil Wears Prada' really about? Is it about internal conflicts, making good or bad choices, mean-spirited bosses, emotional growth? Or is it about a whole lot of beautiful clothes?
I think it's about a girl who grows up and learns that she's capable of anything. And my friend now agreed with me, but I would be curious to learn your take on this film, so please drop me a line in care of the newspaper to share your thoughts.
Would I recommend you see it? Of course, Meryl Streep is a revelation, but I hope it doesn't cause you to flashback to when you had that boss.