Directed by Woody Allen
“The Purple Rose of Cairo” holds the honourable distinction of being one of the few films Woody Allen ever talks about. The man is fairy well-known for his reclusive tendencies when it comes to discussing his own work, but “Purple Rose” has always been a film that he has been proud of. Whenever Allen talks about the film he mentions that it is the closest he has ever come to creating the film he imagined while writing the script, so it’s understandable why he ranks the film so highly. Having said that however, I don’t really find myself agreeing with Mr. Allen’s assessment of his own work.
“The Purple Rose of Cairo” is a great little movie. It is. It starts off somewhat slow, but overtime it’s “quirkiness” and heart wins you over. By the end of the film you’ll have a smile on your face. (Well okay, right up until the very end of the film you’ll have a smile on your face, but the final scene will probably leave you a little sadder for the ware) But it’s never a film that really “pops” off the screen. (Ironic, considering the storyline of the film: A movie character walks off-screen and engages Mia Farrow in a life she has never known, namely, a romantic one.) It has some fantastic little moments, but that’s all they ever are, little moments. There’s no great and profound dialogue that Allen has been known for. No outrageously hilarious moments. The film simply is and it’s more than content with being so. It’s a fun movie, especially for anyone who loves cinema nearly as much as Woody Allen, it truly is cinema lover’s film, but the average viewer isn’t going to get much more out of it than they would a typical little rom-com.
Woody is proud of this movie because it’s the closest he’s ever come to creating something how he imagined it would be. As a fellow filmmaker and writer, I know all to well how good it feels to see something on-screen come alive almost exactly how you imagined it. But I don’t think that because this happens, it necessarily means that it’s your best work. In fact, it could just as easily be quite the opposite. In my experiences I have often found myself being just as a happy, if not happier, when I was forced to alter things for any number of different reasons. Sometimes something that you could never dream of imagining can take place and your work is the better for it. “The Purple Rose of Cairo” exists in neither one of these two extremes. It’s not Woody’s best and it’s certainly not his worst, but it is somewhere in the middle. Of course, I’d take a mediocre Woody Allen picture over the best of many other director’s films any day of the week.