“The Purple Rose of Cairo” is pure genius. Woody Allen’s script is interesting, clever, and very complex as he creates a bridge between the real world and a fictional film world. Many of us can relate to a moment of wishing that we could enter the world of our favorite movie characters, but how often does a movie character wish that they could enter ours? This story is set in depression-era New Jersey and focuses on Mia Farrow, a waitress who is unhappy in her job and her marriage. While the entire story is lighthearted, it is easy to see why Farrow needs to visit the movie theater to escape her own life. Danny Aiello is great as her abusive husband who uses her for the money that she earns as he gambles it away. A man like that could drive any woman to long for an adventure like The Purple Rose of Cairo. The film takes a turn when one of the movie characters, played by Jeff Daniels, notices Farrow in the audience and decides to walk out of the movie (literally through the screen) to meet her. The series of events that follows is gold. Woody explores this situation from several different angles including Daniels’ ignorance of our world (and a lack of real money), the frustration of the on-screen characters as their movie cannot continue, and the panicked “real life” actor who is trying to get his character back into the film. The scenes in which the audience interacts with the on-screen characters must have been very difficult to shoot as it required perfect timing when the initial scene was filmed, and then for the audience to interact with the preexisting scene. I laughed and laughed through the entire second half of the film as the escalation of the situation gets more and more hilarious. I cannot remember the last time that I was this entertained by a plot device. I have always loved Woody Allen’s work but this may be my favorite of his films. “The Purple Rose of Cairo” is incredibly clever and keeps you guessing until the very end.
[Pictured: Confusion fills the film as one of its characters walks out]