With every genre, there comes a time when you’ve seen enough that you can more or less predict where, when and how the most popular pieces of the genre will turn out. While The Devil Wears Prada definitely falls into this category, it’s hard not to enjoy this simplistic, Anne Hathaway led piece of film that also hosts Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci in its impressive ensemble of cutthroat fashionista divas and how their lives overlap with one another.
There are certain vibes of Broadcast News from the film, the idea that all of these people are connected loosely in an office environment. One decision can make or break the progress of another, and that accidental unity between the group is placed very well in scenes that are well strung together by director David Frankel. A seemingly one hit wonder, given that he followed this film up with the likes of Hope Springs and The Big Year, Frankel has a solid enough direction behind him. He lacks the voice that could make up for some of his more padded and unengaging scenes, but his direction is solid enough, but nowhere close to the ground breaking excitement or paced out pieces it could’ve been.
With such a strong cast, it’s no surprise that the performances throughout elicit some great chemistry between a talented cast. Meryl Streep’s leading performance as the higher-class patriarch of a fashion industry is great to see. Miranda Priestly is such a different role for Streep to play, given that she usually plays a heroic loser or something to that degree. Seeing her in a more villainous, cold role is a nice change of pace for her career, which was desperately needed after seeing so many films where she would romanticise those around her. Having this role reversal with Anne Hathaway taking the reins of an optimistic performance as Andrea Sachs is a great endeavour.
Unfortunately, although these performances are all exceptionally well rounded and received even better, the writing of the film truly lets it down. It falls into the expected pratfalls of the genre, and even when it comes to marking so much ground in known territory, The Devil Wears Prada feels like it wants to re-invent the wheel somewhere around the halfway mark. If anything, this leads to what feels like a truly rushed ending, one that sees our hero come to her senses and fix everything within the last ten minutes of the movie. Its abrupt end reminds me of the recent Between Two Ferns: The Movie, where its barebones story is just wrapped up seconds before the closing credits.
Frankel doesn’t feel like the ideal candidate to direct a story that could’ve potentially had a few more layers to it. There’s not nearly enough focus on the subplots that litter the film, instead the whole focus goes on that of Hathaway’s aptly nicknamed “Andy”, and her pursuit of a career that she insists she has no interest in. That excuse wears thin rather quickly, and it’s a shame since The Devil Wears Prada had the potential to be so much more enjoyable if it weren’t for some shoddy mistakes here and there.
Thankfully not quite the waste of time I was expecting it to be, but at the same time it leaves a lot to be desired. All The Devil Wears Prada can do is replicate the most trendy and overused clichés of its genre. Luckily, it replicates well, but at the end of the day it is still a copy of a work that has been done before and better elsewhere.