3 Stars – Thought-Provoking
It is helpful in understanding David Frankel’s film, “The Devil Wears Prada,” to know that he has already explained its meaning: He presents a view of the devil in fine apparel. But don’t be confused, this finely attired mogul of the fashion world is nevertheless a being who will buy and sell your soul if you will let her.
Appropriately given a religious-sounding name, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) is editor of Runway magazine, the fictional equivalent to Vogue. A woman of finely tuned skills, Miranda is a predator in shark-infested waters. She has risen to the top of the fashion world by not only having a keen eye for fashion but also by knowing how to out-maneuver everyone around her. The problem is that in all this maneuvering, she has lost her ability to relate to anyone in her personal life as well. To her, everyone from husbands to assistants exists to meet her voracious appetite for power and control.
The young woman who becomes captured by her grasp is Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway). Having been accepted into Stanford Law School, Andy had declined the honor in order to come to New York to become a journalist. When the only job she can get is the second assistant to Miranda, she accepts even though she cares nothing for the fashion world. It is then that the temptations begin.
The temptations to sell our souls for fame, wealth and power increase the closer we get to achieving any or all of these. This is clearly seen in Andy’s life. Warned by Nigel (Stanley Tucci) from his own experience of having sacrificed his life for Miranda almost two decades earlier, Andy is told that she is in danger of losing her life to her career, yet she continues to forge ahead. Only if you have never been captivated by your own lust for such things is it difficult to understand why she did not heed the warning. Sin’s power to allure us into betraying loved ones, family, friends and coworkers most often comes in the finely attired forms of life. Whether it is wearing Prada or possessing beauty or power or fame, all temptations seem to offer something greater than love, family, integrity and relationships.
However, in a finer moment in the film we discover that perhaps Miranda has a greater purpose in Andy’s life than one of temptation. This comes near the end of the film in a way that we will not spoil but encourage you to watch for it. It implies the mythical explanation of the devil, that his original purpose was to test the hearts of people and only destroys those who fail his tests.
A predictable morality play that shouts its messages to us, “The Devil Wears Prada” is nevertheless a worthy examination of the temptations of modern life. If we do not heed its warnings, we will find ourselves wearing our form of Prada at the expense of our own souls and those we love.
- One of the greatest temptations is power. Miranda shows that she is willing to sacrifice her marriages and her best friends for it. Have you ever sacrificed your spouse or a friend for your own gain? What happened to them? To you?
- When it becomes obvious that Miranda has betrayed her best friend, he claims that she will find a way to make it up to him. Do you believe this will happen? Why or why not?
- When Miranda maneuvers Andy into opportunistically stepping on Emily (Emily Blunt), what would you have done in Andy’s situation?
- The fact that no one in this film mentions God is either an oversight by the writers and directors, or it infers that such people as Miranda, Andy, Nigel and Emily would have no spiritual life. Which do you think it is? Why?