If Anne Hathaway walked into a fashion magazine office, all would stop and everyone’s eyes would fall on her. She would immediately be invited to be the next cover girl – she has that kind of stunning beauty.
In "The Devil Wears Prada," we are to believe Hathaway is the style-challenged Andy Sachs, who warrants the opposite kind of attention when she goes for a job interview at Runway, New York’s biggest fashion magazine. It’s a stretch, but this suspension of disbelief is made easier by Hathaway’s acting, which seems to be getting better with every film. The part requires Andy to be frumpy, something that’s never totally physical anyway. It calls for a certain lack of self-esteem and self-awareness. Hathaway has it down pat.
Andy gets the job as an assistant to Runway’s tyrannical editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). As one character says, "Miranda is fashion." She is the kind of person who demands – and gets – special previews from the biggest houses before Fashion Week. With one purse of her lips, she can send a design to the trash heap. Andy strives to win Miranda over, but wonders if she’s neglecting the rest of her life.
Although "The Devil Wears Prada" has many assets, Hathaway is the main reason to see this movie. In her first lead playing an adult role, she proves she is here for the long haul. She can even can get off a good one-liner once in a while.
Director David Frankel does a fine job maintaining the comedic tone, yet it never interferes with the story. Frankel, who directed a number of "Sex and the City" episodes, has a nice feel for Manhattan, where the film is set.
The rest of the movie basically works on the strength of its acting, mainly that of Stanley Tucci and Streep. Tucci, who plays one of Andy’s fellow employees, is very funny as the flamboyant Nigel, though comes dangerously close to a mincing caricature. Streep is good, of course, but not as magnificent as she could have been. She seems to be simply going through the motions at times. Yet, cruising for this 13-time Oscar-nominated actress is another’s performance of a lifetime.
"The Devil Wears Prada" delivers the goods, although it is more off-the-rack than haute couture.
The Devil Wears Prada
Three reels out of four
In area theaters tomorrow
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