Copyright © 2006 by 20th Century Fox
Fresh out from Northwestern University, Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway) whose ambition is to be a journalist temporarily accepts a position in the fashion industry as a junior personal assistant to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). Priestly, the editor-in-chief of Runway fashion magazine is notorious for her impossible demands but Sachs is adamant to put up with whatever that is thrown at her for a year before moving on to the job of her choice. During her time in Runway, she learns to be fashion conscious and thus altering her perception on the glitz and glamour in a world she once dismissed as superficial. It puts a strain on her relationships with her boyfriend, Nate (Adrian Grenier) and friends especially when she places utmost importance to all the tasks assigned by Priestly. Sachs eventually realises the change and has to decide whether the sacrifices made is worth to her burgeoning career.
A movie about beautiful people donning the trendiest garbs, mouthing a whole lot of haute couture to names you cannot even pronounce under the supervision of a boss from hell downplayed to devilish perfection by one extremely chilly Streep. Count me in! In her 14th Oscar nomination for ‘Best Actress in a Leading Role’, Streep has done it again, this time, bringing her cool confidence and frosty charm to an awfully unlikable character. Roles of this sort tend to be highly exaggerated but under the care of our three-time Oscar winner, Priestly becomes bearable, even to the point of being sympathetic.
It depicts life in the fast lane and only the strong survives beneath an ugly core filled with ruthlessness lurking everywhere, waiting to strike at the most unintended moment. The question does come down at what cost is one willing to pay for the sake of being on top, albeit a lonely one. Priestly, with her outrageously high standards on work and the people she works with depicts a commonly seen encounter in any corporate establishment, though far less acidic and comical. Her interactions with Sachs and Emily Charlton (Emily Blunt) are the film’s brightest spots.
Being the senior who is charged for training duties, Blunt’s Emily is so directly blunt that she nearly steals the show from Streep, a feat typically a debutant would not achieve with such ease. Her cynicism towards the help’s capability is infectious and deadpan humour never falls out of place. In contrast to the dynamics of two lionesses at the top of the food chain is one heartfelt performance from Stanley Tucci, the only friend Sachs initially made in Runway who shows her the ropes along with beauty tips for a radical makeover.
Radically splendid to be exact. You cannot have a show primarily set in a fashion world without its exquisitely tailored clothes to complement its stars, can you? Aptly nominated for her costuming duties, Patricia Field has created distinctive looks for all three leading ladies from the current crop of most sought-after designers including Prada (duh!), Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein and Vivienne Westwood. The montage of Sachs’ transformation from duckling to swan grooving to Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ surely will leave one bedazzled.
Said to have been the inspiration for Lauren Weisberger’s bestseller of the same name, it is an account of Ms Weisberger’s own personal experiences as an assistant and the supposedly domineering editor-in-chief of Vogue, Anna Wintour whom Priestly is based upon. The novel did have its share of criticism but the script’s transition to film is smooth and profoundly written by Aline Brosh McKenna, providing an insightful view to a volatile industry with some of the snappiest one-liners uttered by the cast. Pretty much a must-see for fans of the book but casual viewers will still be entertained from another winner brought to life by the timeless Streep.
Rated PG-13 for some sensuality