Review by © Jane Freebury
There are some delicious put-downs lines in this movie, but you have to listen closely to hear them. They’re mostly spoken sotto voce by Meryl Streep, where any lesser actor would shout to get the point across. Instead of having a tantrum, Miranda Priestly, power-addicted doyen of the New York fashion publishing world, delivers a brisk ‘no, no, no and no’ and a sweet ‘that’s all’ as she cuts her minions off mid-sentence.
When Miranda strides into work of a morning she rattles off instructions – collect items from Dolce & Gabbana, get the order right for her compote and bagels, or send messages to husbands past and present – as her staff scamper around to do her bidding.
Could Andy (Anne Hathaway of the Princess Diaries) survive Miranda? When she lands a job as her new personal assistant – a job everyone tells her a million girls would kill for – she tells herself she only wants to work at Runway fashion magazine for the experience. After that she will get a real job, in serious journalism.
Feeling she is keeping her integrity while selling her soul she arrives for work each day in clumpy shoes and shapeless skirts and suppresses a giggle when Miranda compares the qualities of the latest accessories. The grand dame turns on her. Doesn’t she realise that the shade of blue in the sweater she’s wearing is five seasons old? That it was the shade Miranda herself selected before it filtered down from couturier designs to the clothes rack where she bought it.
Other hardened Runway staff share some of the waspish lines. Nigel – a splendid Stanley Tucci – who works in the art department and Emily (Emily Blunt), Miranda’s other put-upon assistant, but it’s Streep’s show and another Oscar nomination to add to her record list for sure.
Like Robert Altman’s Pret-a-Porter, it’s a light-hearted satire of the fashion world that isn’t indignant about its subject. Actually, I thought it was in two minds about fashion, there were so many costume changes.
Being skinny is a favourite theme. Heard the latest diet? You don’t eat anything until you feel faint then you have a cube of cheese. You can enjoy the parade while the jokes keep coming.