Tuesday, April 30, 2013

# 83: The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Code-name: Nigel

Director: David Frankel
Type: Dramedy/ Workplace Drama

Notable Awards and Nominations:
NOMINATION: Oscar- Best Actress- Meryl Streep
NOMINATION: Oscar- Best Makeup
WIN: Golden Globe- Best Actress (Comedy/Musical)- Meryl Streep
NOMINATION: Golden Globe- Best Picture (Comedy/Musical)
NOMINATION: Golden Globe- Best Supporting Actress- Emily Blunt

Notable Cast Members:
Andy Sachs- Anne Hathaway
Nate- Adrien Grenier
Miranda Preistley- Meryl Streep

Emily- Emily Blunt
Nigel- Stanley Tucci
Christian Thompson- Simon Baker


When I first heard about this movie, I was super stoked. I have absolutely nothing against the Disney/fairytale films that launched Anne Hathaway's career, but I was excited to see her in a more realistic role.
Just to see if how she'd do in this capacity where more people are liable to take an actor seriously.

It ended up becoming so much more.

Not only because Andy Sachs is a character a lot of us young 20-somethings can relate to, but it introduced me to a couple of actors I'd look forward to seeing in future movie roles. Few things are more exciting to me in movies than discovering actors for the first time, especially the newcomers.
However rude Emily's character is, I really enjoyed watching this actress at work. Because Runway Magazine is such a tyranny, she and every other member of this staff has this cynical attitude serving to alienate anyone who doesn't know their way around, but they are really good at what they do.
In a way, I guess you could say that the workplace has a similar dynamic to that of the series "House." Except Gregory House has a dry sense of humor and Miranda Preistly is very passive-aggressive.

Ironically, despite how toxic Runway can be, everyone refers to it as follows:
"Millions of girls would kill for this job."

one of those "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere" type deals. I don't think any of us would necessarily recommend it, but getting to the end of it, you see that the end justifies the means.

From the very beginning, I was hooked.
"Suddenly" by KT Tunstall was a big song at that time and it was a great way to kick off the opening montage sequence. It contrasts all of the typical "runway" girls with Andy Sachs, who is your average pretty girl who happens not to be very fashionable.

At first meeting Andy, Emily quips "HR has a sense of humor," believing she doesn't have the right look for the position.
Miranda hears this argument and shooes Emily away on the grounds that the last few girls she sent up to her were failures or not good enough.

Andy gives a run-of-the-mill answer as to why she wants to work at Runway. Her only background remotely close to being Miranda's 2nd assistant (Emily's the first) is that she wrote for her college newspaper and graduated with a degree in journalism. But she insists she learns fast and won't let her down.
Miranda gives no verbal response other than "that's all."
Andy's on her way out until Emily asks her back, although she can't imagine why.

More or less, what Andy and Emily do are answer calls for Miranda and pass information from one part of the office to the other.
Andy is the designated "gofer," getting everything from coffee to skirts to scarfs, as well as taking care of any personal errands Miranda wants taken care of.
For a while, it doesn't seem to be going anywhere pleasant and Miranda asks Andy into her office in calling for Emily.
It's when she starts using her name we know Andy is doing well.

Andy plans to stick out for a year or so until something else in her wheelhouse opens up, planning to maintain her individuality in a place full of robots.
Her only saving grace, aside from a great deal of patience and nerves of steel, is Nigel. He's one of the higher-ups in the company. He has a dry sense of humor, not very enthusiastic or pleasant sometimes, but deep down, you know he means well. He listens to Andy when she's having trouble getting a hang of things, but gives her a reality check in the most direct way.
Everyone kills themselves when they work there, so there is really no time to play nice. That's just the way things are.

I love his backstory, how he pretended to like sports like his brothers, but at night, he would be reading Runway magazine under the covers with a flashlight. The magazine is a beacon of hope for young boys like him.
If you ask me, Stanley Tucci deserved at least a nomination for this role. He does it so well and behind the cynicism, he brings such warmth to it. Since then, I'd seen him in so many other parts, all of them great... with the exception of the villian in "The Lovely Bones"... likely, that didn't tarnish my enjoyment of his work because he was really spooky in that movie.

Although her demeanor is lightened in the adaptation from book to film (yet another book I haven't read, but should probably get around to), Miranda is "vicious" (per Andy's words) and seemingly unreasonable in her requets.
The first is where she's in Florida and demands Andy secure her a flight home to see the twins' dance recital... during a hurricane. She gets this call (she and Emily are always on call) while having dinner with her dad and of course she's freaking out when nothing is coming through.

Great line in response to this-- 
Mr. Sachs: What does she want you to do, call the National Guard and have her airlifted out of there?
Andy: Of course not... they can do that?

Perhaps the most insane request in the history of requests comes later, which we are left to interpret as punishment for Andy, who mistakenly saw Miranda talking with her ex-husband while she was dropping of "The Book" (a series of layouts, stuffed to the gills with post-its) at her house.
"The twins want a copy of the new Harry Potter book"... keep in mind that this is 2006... a year before the final manuscript got published... so it's a seemingly impossible task.
Likely, she made a good impression on designer Simon Baker when she was dropping something off to James Holt at a cocktail party, because through a connection (of a connection) of his, he managed a copy... which Andy promptly made copies of so the twins can read it on the train ride to grandma's.

As a die-hard Harry Potter fan, I'm watching this sequence in horror because secrecy about the books' contents is crucial... you can't just give away the manuscript like that... geesh... and we all thought it was bad when people were screaming "Snape killed Dumbledore" before others got a chance to read it.

There comes a point when Andy decides to sell out and buy into the fashionista side of Runway, with the help of Nigel, who gives her some things from the closets that he believes would fit a size 6.
We get another montage, but this time, it's to "Vogue"... paying homage to the source of inspiration for Miranda Preistley, the editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine. Anne Hathway is wearing at least a dozen different outfits and hairdos, each looking more amazing than the next. 
This catches everyone's attention and draws a compliment from Emily's friend Serena, played by Mrs. Tom Brady herself, Gisele Burenden, who apparently agreed to appear in the movie as long as she didn't play a model.

Serena: you look good
Emily scoffs
Serena: What?... she does
Emily: Oh, shut up

Runway operates things in such a cutthroat way, even Emily isn't indispensible.
When she gets a cold, her work starts to suffer and we see a transition occur.
Andy becomes the first assistant and Emily is shifted to 2nd assistant.
It starts at one huge gala where Emily and Andy study up on the guest list and introduce Miranda to them... everyone from the big names to the women the men left their wives for.

Finally, after an unfortunate car accident (amidst another coffee run), Emily is side-lined and Andy gets to go to Paris with the Runway people, where huge things happen every year around that time.

Of course, there's the good old trade-off:
Andy's doing well at work, but spending less time with her friends and family. Her live-in boyfriend Nate soon decides to go his own way for a while.
No matter how well things are going, Andy is left with a choice:
Does she want to be with Runway and its glitz & glam forever or is the rest of her life more important?

Eventually, she decided to walk away. She and Nate get back together. And despite the reference from Miranda calling her the biggest disappointment she ever had, she noted that anyone would be crazy not to hire her.
She gets a position at a local newspaper, finally putting her degree in journalism to good use.

There's plenty about this film to think about and take note of.
I feel like a lot in common with Andy, especially when things are starting out. Things are hectic and hard to manage at first and she has to adjust her metabolism to keep up.
I don't think I could ever do that, no matter how good the references are or the pay is. But then again, I'm talking as someone usually stressed out by demanding situations like that, frequently dealing with demanding people and so on.

Andy has this conversation with her dad over the dinner, trying to defend working with Runway magazine despite how far it is from where her aim is.

I don't remember the exact quote, but he says how he can't understand why someone who got into Stanford Law would turn it down to become a journalist "and you're not even doing that."

I went to college and came with a degree in Marine Science.
When checking into colleges and such, I had a few options in front of me... 
it was a duel to the death between Hawaii Pacific University and Stockton College...
I opted for the one closer by for that specific reason, but also because I felt at home on the campus.

so in my case the quote could be: "I don't get why you'd turn down going to school in Hawaii to go to one in south Jersey and you're not even using your degree"
if I manage to get my writing career launched and end up being one of those many success stories we'd had recently (J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Suzanne Collins, E.L. James, to name a few) , I'd be happy with that
when I discuss this with my friends, they tell me to pursue my writing because I'm really good at it... and I try... some days are just harder than others...


Anonymous said...

I like your review. The movie was great. Andy changed for her job and came back on the other side after all of it. She was a good character that showed growth. Emiy was the best character going from evil to nice and caring because she gets "andy's clothes off her hands". Loved the review.

Jackie B. said...

Thanks so much. I'm glad you liked it.
And I completely agree on that last part. That scene is one of my favorites in the movie, especially when Emily tells the newest assistant she has some big shoes to fill ;)