Saturday, September 02, 2006

That Will Be All

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The deliciously callous Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) and the ever bright-eyed Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) in "The Devil Wears Prada."

There were definite moments in the big-screen adaptation of the Lauren Weisberger novel The Devil Wears Prada (which I have never read, and am not planning to) that had me going, "Oh hey, I've been there before!" - not so much dealing with the scary, larger-than-life Miranda Priestly, but that feeling that you were thrown at the deep end of the pool without a lifesaver or the knowledge to swim, and just paddle furiously while keeping your head abovewater. There was so much in Andy Sachs (played with doe-eyed conviction by Anne Hathaway, who had recently bared her breasts to the world in previous print-to-film adaptation, Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain") that I found so easy to empathize with: from the clothes to the minutiae of dealing with the boss' schedules to dealing with with your own job to making the client happy to talking with different people and just making things work...and then doing it all again the next day. And with a smile on your face and a skip in your step, because baby, working in the business is pretty much working in a show business.

A particular scene: on her first day of work, Miranda calls Andy to the office and starts enumerating everything she needed her to do, and Andy just kind of kept on nodding agreeably and her lips were moving soundlessly in an effort to memorize everything that was being said. And it kept all of my self-control from screaming, "Get a goddamn pen and paper, woman! You don't have a photographic memory for that kind of shit!" Of course, I am quite thankful that in working for various magazines and publications under different capacities, and later on when I jumped on the bandwagon at Kestrel, that I have NOT had to deal with such people like Miranda - though I do know of some people that I've known through work that can easily fit the bill.

But then, there really was no clear-cut dichotomy of who was "bad" and who was "good" here: Streep's Miranda was strangely sympathetic, and you could clearly understand and even respect her motives behind everything that she does. There was a scene in the film when, in Paris, Miranda shows a more vulnerable side when she reveals her divorce with her second husband, and Andy asks her kindly and sincerely, "Is there anything I can do?" and Miranda answers her succintly: "Do your job." And the terror she inspires isn't through showing emotion, but lack thereof; her emotionless and almost flippant reactions to everything everyone does for her is enough to inspire fear. Even those who were loyal to her, such as first assistant Emily (played by Emily Blunt) and art director Nigel (played with characteristic understatement by Stanley Tucci), are clearly not rewarded in the way one expects a movie about the glamorous world of high fashion publishing. But their success/failure isn't so much beyond their own control but rather a product of their choices - and I guess that is, in the end, what the film is trying to say. We all make our choices, and we stick by them, even if we can't stand it anymore.

I think Nate (played by an adorable, tousled-hair Adrian Grenier), Andy's boyfriend, sums up the entire experience for her: "I don't care if you pole-dance for a living - just do it with integrity."


Going home, I realized that, shit, now I get it. I get what I'm doing. I get it now. And I'm happy I understand that I need to do this for myself, and so that I can move on with my life: I need to make myself happy first, before I can try and make someone else happy. ^_^

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