Andy Sachs: But what if this isn't what I want? I mean what if I don't wanna live the way you live?I planned to review The Devil Wears Prada after writing about its precursor The Best of Everything over a year and a half ago, but never got to it. It is a good thing, since I have had the opportunity to watch the film several times on cable television and solidify my thoughts. People have told me that I should just watch and enjoy films for pleasure, without dwelling overmuch on the moral aspects (or lack thereof) of a given piece. The Devil Wears Prada, however, is a bit of a morality tale, or at least aspires to be one, in a bizarre sort of way. The heroine Andrea (Anne Hathaway) is a lovely, highly educated, aspiring journalist, who lives with a scruffy, oafish aspiring chef. They do not appear to be engaged or otherwise seriously commited except in a romantic Mimi and Rodolfo sort of way. Although Andrea must support herself, she is expected to be at the beck and call of her boyfriend. Nate, in his turn, makes her grilled cheese sandwiches.
Miranda Priestly: Oh, don't be ridiculous. Andrea. Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us. ~The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
In order to further her journalistic career, Andrea takes a job as the secretary to Miranda Priestley (Meryl Streep), the editor of a fashion magazine. Andy, being a quick study, soons learns how to dress appropriately for her new job and rise to the challenges of the highly competitive fashion industry. She accomplishes several Herculean tasks for the demanding and unreasonable Miranda. Miranda, in spite of her elegant apparel, is one of the rudest, most unladylike women in filmdom, tossing her coat at people and snatching things that are handed to her in the most vulgar manner possible. Perhaps that is how the world of wealth and power affects certain personalities.
Andy accepts it all with grace, determined to succeed at her job. She no longer has as much time for scruffy Nate, who resents her fashionable new clothes, saying boorishly: "I liked the old clothes." Now this is where the movie frustrates me. Why does Andrea stand for that? Nate did not pay for her clothes, old or new. Who is he to criticize what she worked very hard for and what she is expected to wear for her job? He is not even her fiancé. He infers that she is sacrificing her values for material possessions and losing her integrity. Is he willing to provide for her? NO. Does he want to be her husband? NO. Then he has no right to complain about the time she has to devote to her work in order to provide for herself. And how dare he say a word about her clothes. What a bum.
I think that Andrea is in no danger of ever becoming Miranda Priestley, although that seems to be everyone's fear. She is too altruistic at heart to ever become a cutthroat. Working for Miranda is merely an opportunity for learning, seeing the world, and meeting all kinds of interesting people. Nevertheless, all of her so-called friends beg her to give up her position so she can go back to being Nate's plaything. I agree with the reviewer at Good News Film Reviews who says:
The transformation of the character of Andy from Ohio girl to fashion fancy pants is so complete that by the time she has to decide if she should stay with the fashion hierarchy or go back to shopping at The Gap, it seems stupid for her to turn back. She’s sacrificed everything, gained a great deal, and her old life seems troubled and petty. Granted, the fashion world is the sham, but it is sold in the film as being better than hanging with the grunts of the world.In the end, after getting rid of Nate, Andrea almost dies of joy that he is considering taking her back. What is wrong with her? I think that love is often confused with a codependent need to be physically used and psychologically abused. At least Gigi was offered a house and a diamond bracelet and dinner at Maxim's before deciding to give herself body and soul to a man who had no interest in marriage. Why does Andy hold herself so cheap? I would have stayed in Paris.