I know I’m a little late, but I just barely noticed that it is the 10th anniversary of the Devil Wears Prada, one of my favorite films growing up. At the time of its release I was going through puberty, and had big dreams of a career in fashion (which would obviously change). It totally gave glamour to being an assistant and working in fashion. I loved the various shots of New York City and the Madonna-centric soundtrack, and the quotable monologues. and I prided myself on the fact that I understood the “jokes” in the film such as “Get me Demarchelier!” and “Can you please spell Gu-bann-uh?”. It was like a more grown up version of The Princess Diaries.
As I watch as an adult, I think about how much my perception of the film has changed. It’s one of those special movies that will withstand the test of time, but you see it differently as you grow older. As a young professional, I see myself thinking of the characters in ways I had never thought of them as a teenager. The film is a Disney-fied version of the book, which was a bit more cynical and based on author Lauren Weisberger’s experience as an assistant for Anna Wintour at Vogue (Watch The First Monday in May to get an idea) I wasn’t very surprised. Vogue is/was notorious as being a hazing ground for young professionals, notably its interns and assistants. The movie and the book both have one theme in common: the professional world is brutal- especially in glamour industries.
Below you will find my thoughts on the major characters of the film, and my new outlook on them:
Because this place, where so many people would die to work you only deign to work. And you want to know why she doesn’t kiss you on the forehead and give you a gold star on your homework at the end of the day. Wake up, sweetheart.
On Andy: Our main protagonist. Even though I loved her in the beginning, I have mixed feelings about her now. She is a typical ambitious college grad, looking for something- anything to get her foot in the door. She was offered the job due to her impressive resume and what I am assuming- her intelligence and spunk. Miranda reveals towards the end of the film that Andy reminds her of a younger version of herself- which means was she backstabbing and cruel? Or ambitious and smart? If Andy had stayed at Runway, would she have been promoted? She wasn’t the ideal candidate for the job, but she was good enough to get ahead because she was resourceful. Runway does change Andy temporarily, but I didn’t see her in a negative light like her friends and Nate. She was just doing her job, although she was unintentionally jacking Emily’s shine. I hated her constant exclamation “I didn’t have a choice.” However, I don’t like that she threw away a good job because of pressure from her friends and boyfriend. How many people can score a good job like that straight out of college? Not many!
On Miranda: Was Miranda truly horrible? I genuinely ask myself this. When the workplace is dominated by men, would people care if they acted like Miranda Priestly? I see Miranda as a woman whose entire existence was dedicated to her career. She loved it. She lived it. So much so, that it cost her more than one marriage, and probably many friendships (especially Nigel). She is truly amazing at what she does, and of course with success, you have to watch your back and look out for yourself. It was stated that people wanted Miranda gone, and I’m sure plenty of people sucked up to her because of her connections and status but loathed her and feared her. Miranda must have made many sacrifices to get where she is, so she isn’t keen to passing the torch to anyone. But in the end, you realize that Miranda really isn’t truly a villain (at least in the film version). She’s someone who has become so engulfed in her career that she doesn’t know how to live any other way, and Andy wants no part in that lifestyle.
No, no, you chose. You chose to get ahead. You want this life. Those choices are necessary.
On Emily: Even though she is used often for comic relief, she is so much more. As I watch now, I feel sorry for Emily. She is one of those people who live for her work, even if it kills her- which literally almost happened. It’s even hinted that she has an eating disorder. With so many people who would “kill” to work for Runway, it was understandable to see Emily’s constant disdain towards Andy. Emily obviously worked extremely hard for her position, and it was hard to see it snatched away by Andy- who didn’t truly want the job or a career in fashion in the first place. How would you feel if your whole life revolved around something and someone who truly didn’t want it was going to take it? I don’t know if that shows I’m messed up, but I think Emily is a case of a person who does a job a little too well. She’s obedient to Miranda, and Miranda is indifferent. In all honesty, if Emily has a little bit of defiance in her, she would have gotten ahead. I’ve heard of multiple cases of people who do their job well but never get promoted, but the “troublemakers” go on to bigger and better things. It reminds me of the line from The Neon Demon: “You ever have a girl screw you out of a job?”
On Nigel: Nigel is the most admirable character in the movie. And he is like a fairy godfather to Andy. He’s a slave to the rules of fashion too, but he’s loyal and helps Andy. No one deserved to get ahead more than him, but he was unfortunately thrown under the bus by Miranda in order to maintain her position. In the film, we don’t really see what became of Nigel, but hopefully he was smart enough to leave knowing that Miranda would never pay him back.
On Nate and him and Andy’s Friends: They were annoying- sorry. They were all doing their own things, and were fine with the spoils of Andy’s job- but criticized her at every turn. They didn’t really serve much of a purpose outside of Andy’s personal conflict. In the book they are given more weight, but in the film they have no point. Nate is a dream-crusher. He is an aspiring chef, so isn’t he free to do what wants to get ahead in his career? I mean the road to being a chef is pretty intense too. Yet Andy supports him.
I still very much enjoy The Devil Wears Prada, but I love it for new reasons now. I hope you enjoyed this post, and let me know your thoughts!
Adriana The Cinema Soloist