Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Purple Rose of Cairo

The Purple Rose of Cairo; fantasy / comedy / drama, USA, 1985; D: Woody Allen, S: Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello, Irving Metzman, Dianne Wiest

New Jersey, 1 9 3 0s. Cecilia lives a bleak life having a shabby job as a waitress together with her sister, while her abusive husband Monk is constantly cheating on her and never trying to get a job. Cecilia is rather shy and her greatest passion is going to the cinema and watching films. One day she sees the film "The Purple Rose of Cairo" and spends the next few days watching it again and again. After her 30th time, Tom Baxter, a character from the film, comes to life, exits the big screen and escapes with her outside. Cecilia is surprised, but Tom tells her he has falling in love with her. To bring him back in the film, Gil Shepherd, the actor who plays him, comes to town. Gil seduces Cecilia and tells her to forget about Tom because he is just a "fantasy". Cecilia indeed chooses Gil over Tom. Tom returns to the film and after that Gil abandons Cecilia and returns to Hollywood.

"The Purple Rose of Cairo" is one of the most untypical and creative films Woody Allen ever made with a imaginative concept about a movie character exiting the big screen to enter the real world, making it seem like an inversion of Buster Keaton's silent comedy "Sherlock Jr.", and more quirky than Allen's usual films. Actually, the film is so charming and uncomplicated that it can be forgiven that its story development is rather thin and underused, whereas Allen himself said that it's one of his favorite films. "Cairo" is full of nice little gags, like the one where Cecilia finds her husband Monk having a cheerful chat with an unknown woman in her home. After that she decides to leave him because she suspects he is cheating on her. He is denying that and she just looks at him and says; "Your shirt is backwards". Another nice gag has Cecilia explaining to Tom, the film character, who God is, and another when Tom and Gil meet (both are played wonderfully by Jeff Daniels). "Cairo" isn't funny enough, but it shows Allen in an fresh and experimental mood that cherishes nostalgia and simple humanity. In the tragic, but poignant ending the film underlays the bitter-sweet message that imaginary once-in-a-lifetime happiness and escapism is better than grim reality that offers no condolence, no matter how fake it is.


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