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Clothes Encounters 

Fashion show elevated by acting

Consider this an equal opportunity review.

Meryl Streep will continue to receive so many laudatory notices for her performance in The Devil Wears Prada that it would be a shame if her talented co-stars got completely lost during the Meryl-deification. Certainly, the film legend deserves all the accolades she can stomach for her poison-dipped performance in this satisfying screen version of Lauren Weisberger's best-selling novel. As Miranda Priestley, the ice-cold and rock-hard editor of the fashion magazine Runway, Streep speaks volumes with a steely glare here or a terse word there. It's a terrific comic performance, as rich as the ones she delivered in Postcards from the Edge and the otherwise unwatchable She-Devil.

But let's not undervalue Anne Hathaway's contribution to the film. Hathaway (last seen in Brokeback Mountain) has the largest role as Andy Sachs, a college grad whose cluelessness about the fashion industry proves to be a drawback in her stint as Miranda's worked-to-the-bone assistant. Hathaway is to Streep what Tom Cruise was to Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man -- a young talent carrying the load while allowing a more established star to shine in smaller doses -- and she works around her character's predictable arc (i.e. a naive kid who succumbs to the dark side of celebrity life before reclaiming her humanity) to allow Andy to come alive on screen as her own person.

Other players likewise deserve kudos. Stanley Tucci, an actor with a tendency to ham it up, smoothly underplays the role of Nigel, Miranda's most dependable employee. And British actress Emily Blunt, a relative newcomer, makes a striking impression as Emily, the perpetually stressed-out assistant whose entire life revolves around keeping Miranda happy.

The film's peeks into the fashion world are amusing, and the script makes some salient points about the lengths to which a person will allow themselves to be humiliated simply to hold onto a job. Once the focus turns to Andy's crisis of conscience, the picture loses some of its bite. But not Meryl, whose ferocious work continues to take a sizable chunk out of the couture culture.

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