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Meryl Streep is great, or, Devil Wears Prada: better than the book!

Meryl Streep is great, or, Devil Wears Prada: better than the book! published on No Comments on Meryl Streep is great, or, Devil Wears Prada: better than the book!

I saw Devil Wears Prada on Sunday afternoon while waiting for the sun to reappear. While I found the book repetitive, grating, stupid, annoying, childish, clunky, lacking in plot, momentum, character development and reasons to continue reading, I really liked the movie.

The film adaptation changed Lauren Weisberger's debut "novel" from a whine a clef about how the protagonist suffered as an unlikeable assistant to an unlikeable fashion editor into a breezier chick-lit exploration of workaholism. Schlumpy naif Andie gets seduced by the prospect of making it big at her first post-college job, a slavish position at Runway magazine. While examples of glittering achievement — notably the regal, distant and impressive editor, her boss [played to perfection by Meryl Streep] — tempt her to become an overworked and underpaid peon, examples of frazzled persons with no social life also abound. After flirting with lifeless subsumption to a job, Andy learns her lesson and gets a life and a bit more balance. 

My friend who saw it with me commented that the movie tried to set up a false "ditzy fashion mag" vs. "serious meaty journalism" dichotomy, making the protagonist choose a "real, substantive job" [writing about janitors' unions] over the shallowness of the fashion mag life. But the cheap swipe at fashion mags doesn't really work because the movie regularly provides us glimpses of how hard these people work, how deeply they care about their work and how much they are invested. [I found the scenes where the editor meets with her staff, hashing out the editorial calendar, to be a spot-on combination of the real intuition, savvy, discernment and dedication that running a periodical takes.] Personal investment — that's the real theme. Will Andie live to work…or work to live? As the editor's brittle demeanor and poignant soliloquy demonstrate, the sacrifices that one makes to be a career success have a huge toll. In its attempts to explore this toll, Devil Wears Prada balances well between comedy and light drama, a feat made all the more impressive because it's wearing stiletto designer heels!

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