Book Turned Movie Review: The Devil Wears Prada
Book: The Devil Wears Prada
By Lauren Weisberger released in 2003
Lauren Weisberger arrived on the American publishing scene in 2003 with her debut novel, The Devil Wears Prada, a thinly veiled autobiography of her time spent working for Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour.
This novel is exactly everything you expect it to be; clichéd, funny and a total breeze to read. The main character, Andrea, is a junior assistant to the editor-in-chief of the most prestigious fashion magazine in the world. She loathes fashion and everything to do with it, yet holds onto the job because of the doors it will open up for her. In the novel version, Andrea actually has very few redeeming qualities; she’s selfish, self-centered, impatient and quick to anger. She seems to almost consciously drive her friends and family away and makes no attempts to make friends with her new connections in the fashion world. She eventually ends up stealing or, ahem “borrowing” an awful lot from the company closets and expense accounts and eventually loses her job after publicly cussing out her boss. Nice girl, that one.
The novel itself is rife with stereotypes, often painfully so. Nearly every man that appears on the pages of The Devil Wears Prada is so flamboyantly gay that it begins to feel like a farce. It is common knowledge that a bulk of men in the trenches of the fashion industry are homosexuals, however, it is absurd to think that 100% of men in the publishing industry (fashion or otherwise) are gay and that those who are gay are incapable of holding decent conversations without devolving into gossip and innuendo.
The other main character, Miranda Priestley, is overbearing and just plain mean. She also displays almost no redeeming qualities and the reader feels vindicated in Andrea’s extravagantly rude rebuttal of her at the end.
All in all, the novel is exactly what has become the norm in female driven literature, and earns the notorious label of “chick lit,” it is shallow and mean and a whole lot of fun to read. I recommend this for summer beach and/or treadmill reading. You can put it down and come right back to it without skipping a beat.
Movie: The Devil Wears Prada
Starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway
Rated PG-13 for sensuality, alcohol consumption and language
How can a cut-rate, chick lit novel be turned into the most fun and surprisingly deep study of the inner workings of the fashion industry as seen by the eyes of a novice? Brilliant casting and nuanced changes to the characters.
Meryl Streep plays Miranda Priestley, the editor-in-chief of Runway magazine. While the novel’s version of this character was a harsh denunciation of Anna Wintour, Streep’s character deliberately strays from Wintour’s persona. Streep plays her with a “method to the madness” air about her; she pushes so hard and so constantly because she wants her publication to be perfect. She wants her staff to be better and to have opportunities and to learn something. She is also a desperately lonely woman who has poured her life’s blood into her work, and sacrificed everything else- relationships with her husband and children included- to do so. Streep somehow makes the villain seem vulnerable, a feat unparalleled.
The next perfect choice in casting comes with Anne Hathaway. Andrea’s character in the novel is immature and selfish, but Hathaway brings a naiveté and genuineness to the role that makes you want her to succeed. You become disappointed in her when she turns into a “clacker” and you wish desperately for her to repair the damage to her personal relationships, and you believe that it can be done. The novel’s version of this character was beyond repair; but Hathaway’s rendition learns something at the end of it all, and Streep’s Priestley seems almost maternally proud of that fact.
Brilliant casting cannot be discussed without talking about Stanley Tucci. He deliberately played his proudly gay character very mildly; he was not the least bit flamboyant and was void of almost all theatrical stereotypes that haunt homosexual characters. While there was some minor backlash about this amongst the gay community, most found it to be refreshing. A gay character that was portrayed as intelligent, hard working and compassionate; not just loud, funny and horny. The fact that he is gay is no secret- it just doesn’t define his every breath.
All in all, The Devil Wears Prada turned out to be a fabulously fun film. Anne Hathaway reportedly had over 100 wardrobe changes in the 109 minute film, making for a fashionista’s dream come true. And, unlike the Sex and the City girls, all of these outfits are wearable! Add in the fun of recognizing all the celebrity and designer cameos and this film is sure to please the most critical of fashion and “chick flick” denouncers. While I will generally advise to read a book instead of sitting in front of your television, in this particular case, I absolutely must recommend that you.
Gina blogs over at Fantasy Casting, where she spouts her opinion about who should be cast in the film versions of books, comic books and anything else that strikes her fancy. You can contact her here.