10 October '20
The Devil Wears Prada
dir. David Frankel
The film: seminal, instantly classic, containing some of the most memorable lines committed to celluloid in the twenty-first century. None of this needs to be said and yet: here I am.
Deeply, however, flawed.
This is only tangentially related to the rest of my complaints, but the men in this film are a massive drag. (Stanley Tucci excluded. His story, shoehorned in at the end, was heartbreaking. Tucci's acting was phenomenal. The way that he was used as a plot device and then cast aside: they did my man wrong.) Adrian Grenier's Nate was without exception whiny and self-obsessed. Simon Baker's character, who, I forget his name, was charming and a little oily, but then he pulled a sharp lefthand turn and sexually assaulted Andrea and then turned into a whole different character (which character only has like 3 lines). Which, okay, par for the course I guess.
The rest of the owl
Here's what the film is about: a young lady is trying to find her place in the professional world. She's hired at a fashion magazine: a job she does not respect. The lack of respect causes a couple of minor comedic trip-ups. Then we share a tender moment with the Tooch where we're shown how fashion is deeply meaningful to people. She grows to love her job. A series of further challeges display how she not only finds meaning in her job, but moreover how talented she is at it. The prospect of being fired terrifies her.
Her boyfriend, Nate (and set piece friends (including a babyfaced Harry Crane!)), however, doesn't (don't) share her enthusiasm. They willingly take her work gifts but then play keepaway with her phone. She misses Nate's birthday so Nate throws a moody (which, fair) and complains about she's changed—but refuses to have a grown-up conversation with her, opting for cheap shots instead. He doesn't want a professional girlfriend. Her friends claim that she's changed, because 'old Andrea' defined herself by her relationship to her boyfriend ("The Andy I know is madly in love with Nate.")
Some anonymous hijinx ensue. Over the course of a trip to Paris, Andrea has to face how committed she is to her job.
And then she fucking pulls a fucking 180 and decides she doesn't like her job and her whiny boyfriend was right all along, and in the meantime her boyfriend has found himself a serious job off in Boston, and just fucking drops it on her (after super rudely starting their first post-breakup meetup with, "My shift starts in 20 minutes", as in make it quick), and the has the gall to assume that she's going to move to Boston with him, and then guess what she just does a goofy smile and agrees to it?
Oh yeah, and then she gets a job with the New York City Mirror, so I guess she doesn't go to Boston after all??
The way that the movie loses its nerve in the last 10 minutes shatters me and I hate it.
Remove the men. Leave Harry Crane, because I like that guy; but make him Andrea's brother and give him the role of little angel on Andrea's shoulder, sort of keeping her grounded. The relationship between Andrea and Miranda Priestly provides way more than enough narrative fodder to pad out the film's 1h 45m runtime. Make it about the development of Andrea's professional self—we all know that Anne Hathaway can carry that sort of character-centric role. Balance the person that she was with the person that she seems so eager to become.
She can still screw over Emily Blunt and then feel awful about it. She can still leave and get the job at the New York City Mirror at the end. These are good story beats.
Just don't bring Adrian Grenier back into the movie with 4 minutes left and have Anne Hathaway swoon over him like he hasn't just been moping around in his boxers for the whole movie, like we're supposed to be on his side just because he's got those blue eyes and that devilish unkempt Harry Potter hair. Tired of it.