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A movie I like to recommend to people who really dislike Woody Allen (because of his on-screen characters or off-screen life). And I usually get positive feedback.....he does not appear in this movie, and that makes sense because there really are no characters he could play in The Purple Rose of Cairo. It is a hugely entertaining movie--one of his best. Sharp, hilarious, and poignant. And anyone who can keep a dry eye for that ending must be a machine. This is the movie where Jeff Daniels really gets to strut his best comic stuff. He's always been underrated in my opinion. He's terrific at playing the "Everyman," but in Allen's movie he has a duel role--the clueless movie hunk who leaps off the screen to be with Mia Farrow, and the frustrated actor who plays him. Farrow is also good, back to playing mousey after her bold turn in Broadway Danny Rose. I really can't say enough about this. I would rank it as his best film of the '80s. I never get tired of watching it. I don't like using this adjective, but it seems to fit the movie....it is magical.
Woody's stories are often derivative, but he's forgiven that, usually,
because the results are good and ultimately do deserve his signature. For
PURPLE ROSE, he swipes Buster Keaton's gimmick in SHERLOCK, JR., then lets
his imagination run free as he did in the best of his NEW YORKER stories.
We wind up with the most fascinating and realistic meditation regarding
it is to be an audience, a viewer's relationship to art, art's
to reality. The triumph is amazing, because, despite the depth of the
symbolism, PURPLE ROSE can also be seen as sheer entertainment; on its
surface, it is still one of the most entertaining pictures Woody has ever
Farrow and Aiello are marvelous here; Mia, who is quite underrated, has only been as good once -- in BROADWAY DANNY ROSE. The photography is superb, influenced perhaps by Edward Hopper with generally less obvious light sources.
Splendid, splendid work.
The Purple Rose of Cairo really does rate up there with Woody's best -
from Annie Hall, Manhattan to the earlier, more slapstick efforts, such
as Love and Death and Sleeper. Cairo happens to be one of the best 80's
movies Woody actually made - Crimes and Misdeameanours and Braodway
Danny Rose being other greats.
The reason why I think that Cairo is better than the other 80's efforts is that the idea is really inventive. The movie raises so many questions of reality and fantasy, but does so in a highly surreal fashion. The switching of scenes, from reality to fantasy (movie) made me realise where movies take us as a viewer. Cecelia finds solace in the world of movies and comes up against the decision of which is better - the perfect world of movie, or reality, where things are never certain.
Jeff Daniels is so enigmatic in this movie. Not only as Tom, the screen legend, but as Gil the actor. Two very different characters, both played brilliantly. Mia Farrow is great as usual, and shows how broad her talent is (Broadway Danny Rose and Radio Days - both very different characters. Danny Aiello is good as the lazy slob-of-a-husband, Monk.
Like Radio Days, Woody isn't actually on screen (he narrated Radio Days, mind) and in a way this eased me up. Woody is fantastic when he is on screen, but this film benefited from losing his neurotic nature, and instead concentrated on the era, the love of movies and the complex themes of a movie within a movie. I will admit, some neurosis is retained in the dialogue (talk of morality to prostitutes!) - and this added to the surreal nature of the movie.
This has to be one of my favourite films Woody has directed. Annie Hall probably being my fave, Manhattan, Crimes and Misdeamenours and Sleeper following. Cairo is so constantly fresh and inventive, I couldn't help being captivated during it's short running time. I recommend this to any fan - or any lover of movies themselves. A real treat.
Woody Allen's Purple Rose of Cairo is a brilliant piece of film-making. He combines drama, comedy and even a little bit fiction (people jumping out of movie screens into the real world). Its a great story involving a woman with marital problems played superbly by Mia Farrow. Here Farrow gives one of her best performances, much better than she was in a film i recently viewed called Shadows and Fog. Jeff Daniels is also good in his role as the movie character who comes into the real world, as well as the actor who plays that role. This is by far one of the most complex yet well written Woody Allen flicks. All the performances are good as well as the direction and writing, almost everything is perfect. A must-see for any Woody fan.10/10 #60 on my list of all-time favorite films
THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO is a lovely, funny, and heartbreaking entry from Woody Allen that still remains one of my favorites. This romantic fantasy tickles your funny bone and tugs at your heartstrings at the same time and I go through a myriad of emotions whenever I watch it. Mia Farrow stars as Celia, a depression era housewife, trapped in a dead end marriage to a pig (Danny Aiello) whose only escape comes from going to the movies. She goes to see the movie of the title several times and then at one show, the main character in the movie (played by Jeff Daniels)speaks to Celia directly from the screen saying, "You must really love this movie, don't you?" The character then walks off the screen and into Celia's life, claiming that he loves her and wants to be with her forever. Meanwhile, the actors in the movie on the screen are stuck and don't know what to do because they can't finish the movie without Daniels' character and they are seen conversing with each other about what to do and to the audience in the theater, who for some reason, sit and watch the actors on the screen trying to figure out what to do. Further complications arrive when the character starts walking off the screen in other theaters around the country and the actor who played the character (also Daniels) arrives in town to try to convince his character to go back in the movie. Woody doesn't delve into the territory of fantasy too much, but this one totally works with one of his most intelligent screenplays and winning performances from Farrow and Daniels and the ending is a heartbreaker. A must-see.
Woody Allen's "The Purple Rose of Cairo" is a film that speaks to the
heart of anyone who has been mad about the movies. In a now-legendary
scene, intrepid explorer Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels) steps off a movie
screen and into the life of Cecilia (Mia Farrow), an unhappily married,
unemployed, movie-lover. Together, Tom and Cecilia brave the
complications of the real world, including the arrival of Gil Shepard,
the actor who plays Tom.
Farrow is sweet as Cecilia and Daniels is wonderful in his dual role. Brimming with quotable dialogue, "The Purple Rose of Cairo" toys with reality while maintaining a feather-light touch. This is a valentine to the movies, and more so, to movie-lovers.
THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO has got to be one of the most original and
inventive of all the films Woody Allen has done--and all the more
enjoyable because we're not subjected to the Allen character in the
film itself. Instead, we get MIA FARROW (one of her very best
performances) and JEFF DANIELS in what has to be the most original role
of his career, as the man who walks off the movie screen and into
Farrow's humdrum life.
Farrow is the Depression-era movie fan whose film idol walks right off the screen and interjects himself into her life--brightening it, at least for awhile, until the rather downbeat ending. DANNY AIELLO, as Mia's abusive husband and DIANNE WIEST have good supporting roles, but the story really depends on the wonderful chemistry between Farrow and Daniels--and they truly bring the bittersweet comedy and fantasy to credible life.
Furthermore, the script is not only very clever, but the film is technically brilliant in the way it has the film within a film characters on the screen interacting with the movie audience.
Summing up: Stylish mixture of comedy and fantasy, fully deserving the many nominations and awards it won that year.
The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
There's no way you can't like the ingenuity of the movie, and the fun it has. It's about the joy of life, and love of the movies, and the difficulty to tell the difference sometimes (at least when in the theater).
In some ways this is one of Woody Allen's lightest movies, and certainly lightweight compared to the more serious movies of this period (like the stunning gem, "Another Woman"). It's not zany like his earliest comedies ("Love and Death"). And it's not deeply observant and sometimes downright moving and brilliant like his best movies (like "Annie Hall" or "Crimes and Misdemeanors"). In that way it feels like what some novelists would call an "entertainment" to distinguish from their heavier masterpieces, and sometimes these are the most readable of all. Or the most watchable.
"The Purple Rose of Cairo" is inventive, warm, and touching. It's really high brow hilarious when the people on the screen react to the situation, not only because of the existential reality shift going on, but because they are all high brow types. Then there are the everyday scenes with Mia Farrow, the lead actress in the real world (usually), and support from Danny Aiello, really just a foil for the main romances (two) going on with Farrow (singular). It's not as complicated as it sounds, which might prove the elegance of Allen's writing.
A beautiful, delicate movie without undo weightiness. Joyous, yes, even in its melancholy end.
This was a unique storyline - a character comes right out of the movie
screen to join the "real" world - at the time. I've seen several others
copy this sort of thing, although it also was done in some silent
comedies, too, if memory serves. Nonetheless, it was done well here and
I got a kick out of watching it back in the '80s. It's part fantasy,
romance, drama, comedy. Woody Allen, who made this movie, is not on
I have found (with one or two exceptions) that I like the best when he only narrated, such as in "Radio Days" and "Sweet And Lowdown." I like it when he leaves the acting to others.
Mia Farrow as "Cecilia" Jeff Daniels does a terrific job in a dual role, playing Tom Baxter and Gil Shepherd. One an actor, the other a "real-life" guy. Mia Farrow is appealing, as she usually was, as "Cecilia." Danny Aiello is another usually-interesting actor who gets your attention no matter who he is playing.
An inventive film that still holds up today.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Purple Rose of Cairo" poetically defines what it means to love
movies through the story of Cecilia, an ordinary woman whose cinematic
passion plays as a back-and-forth ticket to escape from the Great
But this era also coincided with the Golden Age of Hollywood films : adventure movies, romances, screwball comedies or films-noir, the decade started with an immediate transition from the silent era to the talkies, allowing so many genres to finally emerge on the screen. And people came to see movies because of this constant capacity to surprise, to create new worlds, to become the ultimate escapism with a popular appeal, incarnated by the magical opening image of Astaire and Rogers dancing "Cheek to Cheek". Cinema is ordinary people living extraordinary moments.
This is what loving movies is about, and this translates Cecilia's obsession with films as a desperate need to forget about her lousy husband and her waitress' job, two situations she handles with a poignant, if not annoying, clumsiness, beautifully embodied by Mia Farrow's natural vulnerability. Cecilia, like anyone, can go to the movies, but more than anyone, she needs them. The only bits of enthusiasm in her voice and her eyes are hinted when she talks about movies, and her shy heart suddenly becomes passionate, only a movie lover can understand this weird state of constant amazement.
Cecilia's endearing quality also is her poignant weakness, as she uses movies to fantasize on improbable love stories the way women used to do with literary romances. Cecilia enjoys films in an old fashioned way, not an intellectual appreciation or some sort of quest for a deep meaning. This is the nostalgic aspect of "The Purple Rose of Cairo" , an ode to these times where distraction and amusement were simple, when people's eyes were easily amazed and their hearts easily thrilled, when Cecilia needed to watch the titular film, over and over again, to forget about the job she just lost, and the husband (Danny Aiello) she couldn't lose. In a way, the film's atmosphere foreshadows the tone of Woody Allen's "Radio Days" with an extra fantasy element (literally again)
Cecilia indeed lives in a fantasy that spectacularly materializes on the pivotal moment where "The Purple Rose" hero emerges from the screen to finally meet her, provoking a chaotic situation that none of the audience or the still on-screen characters can handle. And this is where Allen's genius writing emerges too, when I applauded, excited to see where would lead the romance between Cecilia and Tom Baxter, the explorer, played by the actor Gil Sheperd, played by Jeff Daniels. And Allen's approach is subtly iconoclast in the way it totally denudes the characters by underlining the gap between their unreal qualities and the real world.
First fascinated, we start looking at them with very compassionate eyes. Tom is like a child impressed by this world, his life freed from any script's diktat, but whose journey with the prostitutes reveals him as an asexual character ... no money, no sex, no religion, Baxter's Utopian background betrays the Disney-like innocence of these old movies and the dead-end aspect of his real-world adventure. The irony is that he mirrors Cecilia's own condition, as a woman with no job, no money, not even a sexual life, so she would be living the same life with Tom but happily. So the process in reversed and Cecilia gets in the film to live with Tom, in a world where the only colors inhabit Tom and Cecilia's hearts.
But as much as we enjoy seeing the thought-provoking inventive script exploited to its core, this part only reflects the dream-like quality of the movies, as illustrated in the most hilarious moment in the film, when the restaurant maitre d' realizes he's allowed to do whatever he wants, and starts a spectacular tap dance number. It reminded me of these lucid dreams where you allow yourself to go as far as you can, movies are nothing but artistic lucid dreams, after all. And the most delightful ones lead to the most painful wakes, and I consider the script to be one of the best thanks to the genius idea of confronting Tom Baxter with Gil Shepherd who, in an ironic twist, pretends to be in love with Cecilia in his attempt to convince his alter-ego to get back to screen.
What follows is a love triangle and a cruel dilemma for Cecilia, torn between an unreal and a virtual reality, virtual not as the opposite of real, but of actual, of Cecilia's current life. What is virtual is potential, might happen and will happen, and this is where Cecilia's fragile naivety conditions the sad conclusion of the film, confirming that nothing in Allen's scripts is irrelevant. Cecilia chooses Gil over Tom, Tom understanding real life's cruelty gets back on-screen and Gil to Hollywood after having accomplished his mission, with Cecilia as a collateral heart's damage. Realizing her one-way ticket to Paradise was phony, she sadly returns back to her husband who warned her that life was not like the movies. Allen just furnished the cynical proof.
Cecilia was obsessed with unreal stuff, while her heart was broken by something virtual, because of her trust on a real man, not a character, this is the alibi for movies, and Allen's ending with Cecilia enjoying again the sight of Astaire and Rogers proves that she doesn't blame it on the movies. The bittersweet last shot shows Cecilia as one of these poor souls, not heroic in their acts, but in their faith in humanity and people, despite the encountered treacheries and deceptions, the ending reminds of "Night of Cabiria", Fellini's masterpiece about another woman's heart victim of her own goodness.
And despite all the hell Cecilia went through, her illuminated eyes prove that with movies, she'll always have her back-and-forth ticket for Heaven, even for one short moment, she'll feel she is in Heaven ...
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