Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Damn it to hell

As I write this, crazy-dark storm clouds have gathered ominously above my house. Deafening thunder roils like a hungry beast, blocking out the click-click-click of my keyboard.

Electrical storm, or vengeance of the Wraith, Anna Wintour, enraged that this damn movie is being mentioned yet again?

Either way, if they knock out the power I’m screwed. I hate retyping.

First of all, to our American cousins: Happy 4th! I would like to point out that it is also my 3rd wedding anniversary today. That’s right, we got married on Independence Day. Cuz that’s how we like our irony.

Now on to business

Dragged the husband to TDWP on Sunday night. Clearly instructed him not to sigh heavily throughout a movie that he would inevitably find ‘stupid.’ Offered him the alternative of staying home. Sent him to fetch popcorn in obnoxiously long popcorn line-up. He still managed to make it back to his seat before the second preview.

The theatre was packed. We found a couple of empty seats between two other couples: one middle aged, the other teenaged and completely lip-locked for the entire preview portion of the evening. These people will become important later on.

I like the way the film opened. Great opening scene. And that’s where any significant artistic deviation from the novel ended, until the end of the movie. Which is my second biggest criticism of the film. My first is the casting of the lead. I’ll get to that.


As a video novel, this film was FANtastic. Unfortunately, the novel upon which it is based wasn’t fantastic. Ergo, as a movie, it, well…kinda sucked.

What didn’t suck

Meryl Streep. I hate to sound like a lemming, but the woman’s a great actress. She was the (only?) art in this film. She played the Miranda Priestly character with subtlety and depth, filling in some of the gaps in this character from the novel. She didn’t go hog-wild, nor did she underplay it. It was perfectly balanced, given the context of the book. If you didn’t read the novel but saw the movie, you’d still hate this character. But if you did read the novel, you get a nice extra serving of character development.Bravo, Meryl.

The screenplay. I think overall they picked the right scenes to recreate. It gives non-novel-people a good sense of the drudgery and humiliation, without the godforsaken repetitiveness of the novel.

Stanley Tucci. Fantastic. Every scene he was in was significantly better than most of the rest of the film. He is the king of the humour/emotional depth/humour transition.

Emily Blunt. She did a really good job in this film. Good timing, good delivery, great bitchiness.

What did suck

Anne Hathaway. What can I say? For me, she just does not pull off a lead actress role. She’s stagey and artificial and, frankly, stays frumpy in spite of her ‘makeover.’ I don’t buy her as sexy, either. Except in that one scene where she’s…well, let’s say it’s the morning after the night before. And she’s a little rumpled. My husband agrees that that was kind of sexy. Other than that, too puppy-doggish. Poor casting. Elisha Cuthbert or Kate Bosworth are possible alternatives. Gwyneth Paltrow?

The boyfriend and other friends. I just didn’t care. They didn’t make me care. There was no real sense of connection between Hathaway and Grenier (the boyfriend character), or among the four friends. When they steal her Blackberry and threaten to tell her boss to piss off, you’re supposed to side with them, but somehow all the sympathy lies with Hathaway. In fact, that’s a big shortcoming of the movie—they don’t really answer the ‘why’ question very well…why is Andy Sachs staying in this horrific job? Why should I care? Why am I nodding off?

The clothes. Ugh..blechh…ick. I have to agree with all of the fashionistas on this one. The costumes are WAY too costume-y. This movie could have been so much cooler with the right clothes!!! Especially terrible was the wardrobe for Streep’s character. There was no edge to it at all. She looked like a corporate attorney with a penchant for $2,000 purses. And that leather thigh-high boot/Chanel blazer outfit on Hathaway? Gag. The stylist (shockingly, from Sex and the City) should have trusted the audience more. Instead, she went for obvious. And it had a huge impact on a movie that hinges on the wardrobe.

If the stylist was going to go for the “great old standards” thing, she should have done something really cool and stylized, like a funky modern-retro Jackie O-type look for Streep, and maybe some cool take on the 'girl Friday' look from the 40s for the Andrea Sachs character and the other office girls. Those are just random ideas, but you know what I mean: Forget the designer labels and just create an amazing, cohesive wardrobe for the film from scratch. Now that would’ve been cool. But other than the opening montage, the characters never screamed ‘chic!’ to me—and they should have. I'm angriest about this shortcoming, because it robbed me of my vicarious shopping experience. (Arms crossed angrily, frown creasing brow, pouting furiously).

They left out the Hermes scarf storyline. This was, to me, an important symbol in an otherwise soulless novel, and I think they should have kept it. The white Hermes scarves. So important.

So that’s my basic summary. I’ll end there because my fingers are getting sore and we have to go out for our anniversary dinner now…Mmmmmm. But I’ll end with the mystery of the two couples beside us:

The middle-aged couple beside me had very weirdly intense reactions to this film. My first thought as I looked at the greying, bearded, Grizzly Adams-looking man when I sat down was, ‘Great, I’m going to be sandwiched between two heavily sighing, snoring males through the whole thing!’

But no. He tsked. He giggled. He guffawed. He laughed as though it were the funniest film he'd ever seen. He whispered, ‘no!…don’t do it!’ at Anne Hathaway. At one point, he actually grabbed his head and shook it in despair as the Andrea character was reprimanded by her evil boss. He laughed, he cried, he lived it. God that was weird.

As for the teenage tonsil-hockey champs beside my husband, I think they were mostly confused by the film. There was a lot of wise-cracking and question-asking. They seemed not to understand what was going on; then again, maybe they had other things on their minds...


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