The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

Woody Allen is never a hard sell for me. I’ve been watching Woody Allen movies since before I could understand half of what’s happening in them – that’s what happens when your parents are from New York. Anyway, I’ve always been a fan, but I by no means have seen his complete filmography. So, as an antidote to Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath of God, we chose Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo.

Set during the depression, Mia Farrow plays Cecilia. Like most Americans during the depression, she could use some cheering up. Her escape comes mainly from the movies – she’s well known at the local movie theater. She can’t focus on her waitressing job because her head is always in the last picture she’s seen. She’s just beside herself with excitement for the latest, which is, as you may have guessed: The Purple Rose of Cairo.

Cecilia, watching.

Cecilia loves this picture so much, she’s seen it multiple times. Enough times, in fact, to attract the attention of a “minor character” from the movie (played by Jeff Daniels). He’s so taken with her, he walks right out of the film and into real life. Cecilia is, at first, incredulous – how could something like this happen? But given the fact that she’s just been fired from her job and her husband’s an unemployed, cheating drunk – why not just run with it?

This movie was delightful (I never use that word to describe anything, except maybe pandas) and sweet. I think everyone can understand wanting to escape real life through film. This movie can be summed up with this one quote, uttered by one of the moviegoers in the film: “I want what happened in the movie last week to happen this week, otherwise what’s life all about, anyway?” It is indeed good to know that when we need an escape, our favorite movie can always supply a reliable one.

Oh, Woody! Why you gotta be such a mess in real life!


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