Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Purple Rose of Cairo, Woody Allen, 1984

Usually Allen is best when he has a main character he's really interested in. Which is obviously the case here. And Farrow's magnificent performance alone should've made this one of his best films. Indeed, it manages to gloss over the lazy Way Allen once again sets up his own romantic / meta-filmic premise. The diner scene early in the film (mostly done in a single long take) with Farrow and her colleague maneuvering in the tight space behind the counter while talking about life, work and cinema is a small masterpiece of economical filmmaking in its own right.

On the other hand, the period setting brings out the very worst in Allen. He's obviously not at all interested in the textures of history - which wouldn't be a problem if the film wouldn't insist so bluntly on Farrow being a "victim of her time". For Allen, "history" is nothing more than functionalist shorthand, which allows him to not even bother with the complexities of communication and affect. The result is a sadist streak undercutting all playfulness. The scenes with Farrow and her husband at home are especially disgusting, as they are obviously just there to properly set her up - literally: to beat her into submission - for all that romantic escapism.

No comments: