Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Purple Rose of Cairo [1985]

A disenfranchised woman escapes her dismal marriage by going to the movies. She goes so often that one of the actors in the movie notices her and steps off the screen to be with her.

This was actually quite a charming little film about the escapism people experience when they are really drawn into a movie. It is set in the depression era New Jersey – so the escapism in films was probably even more intense as it is these days considering that Hollywood movies were so glamorous.

I was charmed by Mia Farrow in her role as Cecilia and Jeff Daniels in dual roles as Tom Baxter the escaped actor and Gil Shepard the actor who plays Tom Baxter.

I thought the writing was a little off with the character of Tom Baxter – who keeps explaining that his character has X defined trait and X defined knowledge of such things – because it wasn’t clear that he could learn outside of those designed character traits. In one scene he finds out his money is fake movie money – in another scene he hands some out to a man waiting in line at the soup kitchen. It doesn’t make sense to me – unless it’s just a gag – though the film didn’t seem to rely too much on gags.

I was also confused with some of the direction – Cecilia leaves her abusive husband early – then we see her wander around – and then show up at a door and enter it. Up to this point we haven’t been introduced to the outside of her house – so I wasn’t sure if she was going to her sister’s place or retreating back to her abusive relationship – especially considering they don’t show Cecilia together with her husband for some time after that scene.

Harmless errors – that are easy to overlook as it turns out it was really a lot of fun. I enjoyed watching the other actors in the film that Baxter stepped out of bicker and complain about not being able to go on with the movie (for a little while). The audience interacting with the actors was kind of fun (with a few characteristically Woody Allen jokes). I really liked the love triangle that developed between Cecilia, Baxter and Shepard – it would’ve been interesting to hear what would’ve happened to Cecilia if she stepped into the film with Baxter to live happily ever after and the film ended its run (a depressing technical question that shouldn’t be asked in a fantasy film such as this).

I’m getting more serious about considering purchasing and learning to play a ukulele.

Anyway, it’s real charmer of a film – and would recommend it to you if it sounds like something you’d like.


  1. I think it's one of Woody Allen's three unquestioned masterpieces (the others being Manhattan and Stardust Memories).

  2. Nice... I'm going to have to check those out - because even though I submit two paragraphs of "complaints" about this movie I really did enjoy the hell out of it...