Not long ago, my boss loaned me her personal copy of The Devil Wears Prada. While my boss is no Miranda Priestly, there is a certain irony in someone who has the capacity to make her employees so crazy loaning one of them a book about a boss who makes people crazy.
Truth be known, even though I was keen to see the movie, I never intended to read the book for the simple reason that I hate "chick lit. I hate the name. I hate the plot lines. On the likability scale chick lit is down there with Oprah's Book Club, and you know how I feel about anything related to Oprah, whom I like to think of as my celebrity nemesis.
How I feel about Oprah is the polar opposite of how I feel about Meryl Streep, whom I have loved ever since seeing her in the film version of Issak Dineson's Out of Africa when I was a teenager. It is one of my all-time favorite movies (not to mention a book that is well worth reading).
Back when I first saw the film, it's main appeal was the sheer beauty of the filmscapes. Now, many (many) years later, after having experienced the beauty of Dinesen's prose, I realize that the beauty of the cinematography reflects the poetry of the author's own words:
If I know a song of Africa, - I thought -, of the Giraffe, of the African new moon lying on her back, of the ploughs in the fields, and the sweaty faces of the coffee-pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Would the air over the plain quiver with a color that I had on or the children invent a game in which my name was, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or would the eagles of the Ngong look out for me?
In one short paragraph, Dinesen captures what we all want - to matter. If there's one thing people all over share in common (actually there are many things!), it is for their song to be heard. No one wants to die unnoticed, unloved. I suppose that, at least in terms of her art, this is something that need not worry Ms. Streep.
It is because of this that I was so interested in seeing the Devil Wears Prada movie. While it cannot be compared to Streep's earlier movies like Out of Africa or Silkwood (it just can't, they're totally different worlds), Streep is expectedly delightful as the self-absorbed ueber-bitch, Miranda Priestly. Priestly is rumoured to have been inspired by Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, for whom Lauren Weisberger worked early in her career.
Wherever the character came from, Streep, more than any other element (even the great clothes...well, some were great...Oh, Anne Hathaway, why did you agree to that weird getup with the odd off the shoulder sweater/blouse combo and newsboy cap?), makes the film entertaining. What I expected would become a tedious character in a novel (I was right, by the way), is so craftily rendered by Streep's soft, controlled voice and expressions that she somehow manages to escape becoming just a charicature.
Miranda is a study in bitchiness, yet there are moments when Streep manages to make her an almost sad figure. I'm not saying that she is ever likable (it's hard to like someone whose song includes soul sucking), but Streep's portrayal does hint at a depth that would be lost in the hands of a lesser actress. Plus, she wears some awesome shoes.
Kicky shoes aside, is it a great movie? The best movie ever made? Well, probably not, but it is entertaining. It diverted me from my concerns for almost two hours and I'm still not sorry I paid full price to see it. Trust me, that means a lot. I am cheap and generally unwilling to pay more than economy pricing for movies not involving Johnny Depp. So, all in all, I can in good conscience recommend getting to know The Devil (as long as you do it via the movie and not the book).