Comedy. An unfashionable girl gets a job with the Queen of the fashion industry and is educated in the ways of outer beauty. A thoroughly enjoyable moral tale about fashion as a metaphor for life. Anne Hathaway is brilliant as the neophyte thrust in over her head and Meryl Streep is even more brilliant as the Devil herself. What I liked about this story is that it was pretty fair to the fashion industry, even while critiquing it. That is, the moral was of course that you should be yourself and not some fake façade of nouveau, but it gave the devil her due as well. That is, one scene was the most brilliant in the film is where Ann chuckles at the pettiness and apparent irrelvence of the designer’s design choices. Meryl stops and turns it back on her by describing to Anne, the origins and development of the poor taste turquoise blue in the sweater Anne is wearing, all the way up to the point where Anne buys it in a half price bin, thinking she is making her own choice, without being aware that the entire fashion industry dictated her options to her right down to what she is wearing. It was one of those moments where you say the villain is not all that wrong, though she may be an extreme. Favorite line in the movie, Anne questions Meryl about the legitimacy of the fashion world, and Meryl says to her, “Don’t be ridiculous, everyone wants to be us.” There is a particularly poignant punch to that line that hit me about our culture. That is the entire world of advertising/marketing/fashion simply works because everyone DOES want to be the impossible unattainable icon. Fashion is the deity of perfection which we all desire or are drawn to, whether we know it or not.
What I did not like about the movie is that a triangle is set up between Anne and her current boyfriend, a nobody nothing student of some kind, and a writer of the fashion world that is hitting on Anne. Well, the boyfriend is set up as the guy who represents conviction and the world she left but should have stayed with and the fashion writer represents the false world of temptation into emptiness. And yet, I thought the boyfriend as a loser and undesirable non-convictional man. So, I think their moral was not quite incarnate in that character as depicted. Another failing I think is that Anne sleeps with the fashion guy and then leaves him for the boyfriend, as if that liason did not affect her spirit at all. This was dishonest. Something that The Breakup storytellers were more observant about. In the Breakup, they break up but never sleep with anyone else because the storytellers realize that that changes you in a permanent way and alters the hope for true reconciliation. Not that reconciliation is impossible, but surely that the relationship loses the true unity that it had. Sex is sacramental. It changes you and your relationships forever. It takes a piece of you and loses it to another person. To deny that is dishonest.