In show business, a most talented artiste will still need the perfect platform to shine. With a combination of factors, including a big dose of luck, this can happen. And we have seen this happen. How an artiste sparkle, and how a movie for example, can move from good to great to becoming a classic. What if a writer writes a meaty role with a talented artiste in mind? Of course the execution and many other elements that make a movie a movie will influence the final outcome. But the chances of seeing magic on screen is much higher.
Meryl Streep in ’The Devil Wears Prada’ is a classic case in point. Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt (who would have thought?) along with Stanley Tucci are all good. But sometimes a movie just needs a dame. Someone like Streep to play Miranda Priestly, a character widely believed to be Vouge’s editor Anna Wintour. A pillar of strength, that serves both as the friction and resolution, the very reason to watch, to follow and to savour the unraveling of the story of a woman in the acme of her power, who is also human, who is also vulnerable.
Mindy Kaling is a powerhouse Indian artiste who voices, acts, writes, produces, a name behind some of the recent genre-bending titles. Her latest, ‘Late Night’, a dramedy she co-produces, writes and co-stars with with an actual dame, Emma Thompson, is a latter day ’The Devil Wears Prada’, on the world of late night talk-show hosts and stand-up comedians. I know how talented Thompson is. But that ‘Late Night’ is so very watchable is almost totally her. Her Katherine Newbury is both strong and weak, both inhuman and humane.
Thompson’s character is tailor-fitted to her comedic timing and specificity. She is cuttingly sharp with the throwaway swagger of someone who is far too good for her work for far too long. Like most women who are too strong for their own good, she faces her follies and finally her destiny with her exceptionally wise husband (a lovely and understated John Lithgow). While we know her character is a work of fiction to entertain, like how Katherine Newbury will need to engage her TV viewers, Thompson’s haughty gravitas shows a spine that rings true.
I cannot remember when was the last time I was entertained by a Netflix comedy as much. If you have Netflix, watch ‘Late Night’. Because at some point, we have all been carried away by our talents. Because we have all had our highs, and because we have all been pulled down to earth by truths only some people who care enough will tell us…