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follicle/['fɔlikl]/ n. 小囊, 滤泡 ...

Never out of fashion

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In the 1992 film Death Becomes Her, Meryl Streep's character, a faded actress, discovered the fountain of youth.

About now, audiences might be wondering whether Robert Zemeckis's gothic comedy was altogether a fiction.

At an age when most Hollywood stars are experiencing a severe career drought (57), the two-time Oscar winner seems to have access to her own private well-spring.

The internet movie site IMDB lists six projects to which Streep is attached in the coming year, including First Man, with Robert De Niro. And that's on top of Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion, released in Sydney next week, in which she sparkles like a rare jewel.

In The Devil Wears Prada, out today, Streep doesn't so much steal the film as elevate it to an entirely different level.

She's wickedly and deliciously funny as Runway Magazine editor Miranda Priestly, a formidable fashionista rumoured to have been modelled on Vogue's Anna Wintour, adding a depth and breadth to her character that wasn't there in the book.

Director David Frankel's flab-free adaptation of Lauren Weisberger best-selling roman a clef is similarly value-added. It tells the story of Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), a journalism graduate who decides to try her luck in New York. After being turned down by "serious" publications, Andy lands an interview at the city's most influential fashion magazine.

A job as Priestly's assistant is an opportunity hundreds of young women would kill for - but one few are able to survive.

Andy knows nothing about fashion, but she's told that after a decent stint as Priestly's assistant, all sorts of doors will open to her.

Dressed in sensible shoes, and a no-nonsense wardrobe, Andy is completely out of place in the environment in which she finds herself, one that is dominated by ultra-thin divas whose world is completely ruled by fashion.

But Priestly's wonderfully acerbic, "off-the-cuff" history of the colour of Andy's bargain-basement jumper helps her - and us - see the bigger picture. Over time, and not without injury, the sartorially challenged gofer reinvents herself.

During her metamorphosis from brainy dag to drop-dead gorgeous glamour girl, however, a few close friends fall by the wayside - including chef boyfriend (Adrian Grenier).

Thankfully The Devil Wears Prada resists any temptation to turn itself into a straight morality tale. It's a sharp and at times mercilessly funny satire on the fashion industry.

Hathaway is sweet and sympathetic as the naive newcomer and Stanley Tucci is superb as Miranda's right-hand man, but this is Streep's film. She's the mistress of understatement and queen of the withering silence.

You'd probably have to go back to The Bridges Of Madison County (in which she also appeared) to find a film that was this much better than the book.
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