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The Devil Wears Prada, David Frankel (2006)

Everyone’s already said that Meryl Streep’s great and that the film’s unworthy of her–true on both counts–so I don’t need to say anything further about that.

As a former member of the Manhattan Minion Militia (the zillion-strong force of smart and terrified kids just out of college who move to New York to work as “administrative assistants” and spend 65% of their take-home pay on rent and the rest on PBR, and upon whose backs this nation’s entire culture industry rests), I was much more interested in the Anne Hathaway character. She gets her job way too easily, but that’s a forgiveable MacGuffin. She’s unbelievably simple-minded and irony-free for a 21st-century college graduate, but OK, I can roll with that too. What I do find entirely, weirdly, familiarly believable, though, is that once she gets the hang of her job, she develops a genuine commitment to it that causes her considerable moral confusion. On the one hand, she’s repelled by how seriously she’s begun to take her job; on the other, she’s thrilled by how good she is at it. So what’s more important: what you do, or the way that you do it? That’s the movie’s real question, and it’s one worth taking seriously. In the end, of course, because Hollywood must self-flagellate, the movie’s answer is emphatically “what you do”: Hathaway quits the fashion mag for more Meaningful Pursuits. Personally, I think Bananarama had it right.

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