the purple rose of cairo

released: 1985

directed by: Woody Allen


written by: David Botros


Watching this film is like eating creme brullée –

It’s a little tough on the outside but the inside will positively melt your heart.

Oh, and when it’s over, you want more.

Mia Farrow plays Cecilia, a down-on-her-luck wife to a penniless brute in the depression era.

Her life really has no redeeming values save for one thing:

The movies.

Cinema is her escape.

The opening shot is this poster for a film called The Purple Rose of Cairo, and as things get worse for Cecilia, she returns to that screening again and again until something quite magical happens.

Our main character leaves the screen and enters the real world.

Let me tell you something, that moment when Jeff Daniels breaks the scene and looks out into the audience is one of the most whimsical things I’ve seen outside of a musical.

Because of how beaten down Mia Farrow’s character is prior to this moment, and because of how desperate we are to see her get a break, watching her run away with a movie character is kind of insane but at the same time so, so uplifting.

It’s a breath of fresh air.

After that, this thing really takes off.

Now the producers are in a hurry to find Jeff Daniels and put him back in his celluloid world while the real Jeff Daniels (and by that I mean the actor that the real real Jeff Daniels plays who’s playing the character in the fake film – it’ll make sense if you see it) stumbles across Cecilia and persuades her to help him find his double.

What a clever concept!

One that really hit me in the feels.

Even the movie within the movie is made with a great deal of love and attention to detail.

So much so that besides seeing the faces of modern actors, I never doubted that this was a film that came out in the 30s.

As for the ending, I’m happy with how Woody Allen chose to depict that relationship between fantasy and reality.

It’s a reminder of how harsh the real world can be, but how the joys we find in fiction make it tolerable.

Copyright © 2021 David Botros