In Depression era New Jersey, a waitress named Cecilia goes to the movies to escape her drab life. Everything changes when one of the characters in her favorite film walks off the screen to join her in the real world.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
Allen isn't to be trusted when it comes to philosophical depth, and Purple Rose barely has enough story to fill 80 minutes. But it has lovely whimsical melancholy, and it's worth noting that, self-absorbed as he is, this is a rare film from that period with no "Allen" character, just a love letter to Mia and to moviegoers (but not Hollywood). Final coup: turning a Fred and Ginger puff pastry into something poignant.
re-rating. From the life of characters in a world of fictional inventory of imaginary lives through distinct and intersected layers, making realize that life's dream is a dream living within a dream, which is life itself. Dream as materia and allegory of cinema. The great final shot of Cecilia/Mia Farrow is the constitutive durability of this perception, although she's also a character, just like us, organic unicity.
Although the du jour high postmodernist clichés (à la John Barth) of plot (factitiousness of facticity) and dialogue (author as god, fashionable cinephilia etc.) wear the look of faded regulation brocade, the fabulously leggiero pacing and the friction it creates against the dispirited image and the wan-raggedy-babydoll-with-a-squeak-of-spirit look of Farrow (one of her looks) still pleases and sometimes delights.
Seeing this in Hollywood on a film print was nothing short of perfection. This is a magical little film, made the year before Hannah and Her Sisters, my favorite Woody Allen film. Mia Farrow and Jeff Daniels are both great, and the fantasy element is perfectly managed by Allen's screenplay. It's less interested in the science and more in the possibilities. I was smitten with The Purple Rose of Cairo.
Cinema seen as a confessional booth where one can atone sins or ease sorrow but only to face reality once the show is over. Cecilia (A lovely Mia Farrow) understood only at the end that one should never push to obtain perfection, that beauty can also be found in the ordinary