In "The Devil Wears Prada," Meryl Streep plays Miranda Priestly, the titular "devil" of the story -- the driven, self-absorbed, demanding editor-in-chief of "Runway," the bible of New York fashion magazines. Unable to keep a decent assistant with her punishing ways, Miranda's latest hire is Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), the smart girl who eschews fashion (at first) and arrives at her new job at "Runway" head-to-toe out of place. She wants to be a serious writer. Her clothes are all wrong. She is horrified by Miranda's demands, even though they are legendary to anyone who knows anything about the industry. She is told, umpteen times, that thousands of young women would die for her job.
Can Andy survive a year of Miranda and, in return, win a recommendation that will get her in the door at any magazine in Manhattan? That, in essence, is the plot of the film.
Streep makes it work. Streep makes it fun . Best known for her dramatic brilliance, Streep has done strong comedic turns in the past, and this performance is a reminder of that, and then some. Miranda is riveting -- when she's in the room, every muscle fiber of every other human being in her general proximity is acutely aware of, in awe of and afraid of her presence. When Streep's on the screen, she has the same effect on her audience; she totally commands every scene.
"Devil" gets the fashion industry, and that certainly helps. Sure, there are plenty of cliched references to the models and assistants living their lives in fear of food and fat, but an early-film treatise from Miranda on the economic power of the fashion world makes sure viewers realize that fashion is not all about hot models and perfect shoes. It's a feudal system, one in which the color choice for this season's must-have designer belt dictates what shade sweater Kmart will be selling to the serfs next year.
-- Jennifer Frey
Contains partial nudity and sexual situations.