Recent college graduate Andrea (or “Andie”), played by Anne Hathaway (The Princess Dairies), pursues a career working for Miranda Priestly, editor of the fashion magazine Runway, also known as the “Dragon Lady”.
Runway workers essentially lose their personal lives as they transform themselves into Miranda pleasing drones to retain their positions in the fashion industry.
They silently hope for their own career, which is always dependant on the one person with enough power that trickles down to others who gain her favor – Miranda, well played by Meryl Streep.
That power comes at a price as Miranda willingly completes endless revisions and decisions to keep her power and tactfully neutralize potential rivals.
Miranda has a talented team including Nigel, played by Stanley Tucci who has learned the most important lesson after 18 years in the fashion industry – ultimately, it’s Miranda’s opinion that matters.
Streep spearheads a very credible depiction of the fashion industry with plenty of edge and hints of heart while maintaining her icy public persona.
Her decisions create plenty activities for her assistants while she calmly delivers insults based on her target’s performance and/or his/her sense of fashion.
Miranda doesn’t resort to face-to-face cat fights or personal attacks, but uses her totalitarian grip whenever possible, which is why a one year stint gets high mileage in the professional world.
Miranda gives Andie an impressive introductory lesson about color to change her mind about this new, fickle psuedo-culture that yields so much prestige and power.
Andie leaps into action whenever Miranda calls her on the cell phone or Miranda’s primary assistant Emily, played by British actress Emily Blunt, barks orders at her.
Andie faces several dilemmas as she contemplates throwing away months of hard work, but Emily pushes her through saying “Just deal with it. You have to be here.”
In her work life, Andie finds little sympathy amid lots of memorization, personal sacrifices and errand running. She complains about Miranda to her friends and wants to play the victim, but discovers her journalism and research skills can break new boundaries and also blaze her own career path.
“Same Andie, better clothes,” she says as each success breaks boundaries at the office and even in Miranda’s personal life. “You see beyond what people want and find what they need,” Miranda tells Andie.
Andie learns a lot from the most difficult, demanding people and experiences, which includes a special four-hour mission that brings her closer to famous writer Christian Thompson, played by Simon Baker (Guardian television series).
As Andie begins to gain that highly coveted favor from Miranda, her personal life suffers. Christian begins to drive a romantic wedge between Anne and her boyfriend – the film’s weakest link.
Andie’s boyfriend and mostly superfluous friends wince whenever Andie leaps for her cell phone, but don’t have enough screen time to offer any real advice. They just complain as her progression into the fashion world pulls them further away. They even dub Andie “The Glamazon” as she must now suffer backstabbing and dissention on the other end of her life spectrum.
Andie takes all the slights, setbacks and slams with class and a quiet smile and unselfishly supports her ‘teammates’ through hardships. Hathaway’s genuine and very likeable performance creates a solid anchor for the film.
The strong music soundtrack includes songs by Madonna, Moby, Alanis Morissette and U2 and, of course, there’s plenty of notable fashions from costume designer Patricia Field (Sex and the City television series).
Filmmakers skillfully transform this enjoyable film into a runway show while the two lead characters are strong enough to keep the plot from falling off the catwalk. Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated PG-13 for language and some sensuality.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler