Tale is a light, almost frivolous treatment of a serious theme, as Woody Allen here confronts the unalterable fact that life just doesn’t turn out the way it does (or did) in Hollywood films. For all its situational goofiness, pic is a tragedy, and it’s too bad Allen didn’t build up the characters and drama sufficiently to give some weight to his concerns.
Allen introduces Depression-era waitress Mia Farrow, a hopeless film buff so consumed by motion picture gossip and fantasies she can barely hold down her job.
Her husband (Danny Aiello) is a complete boor, so she spends all her free time seeing films over and over again until Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), a character in a fictional RKO epic The Purple Rose of Cairo, stops the action, starts speaking to Farrow directly from the screen, and, fed up with repeating the same action time after time, steps out of the film and asks to be shown something of real life.
Mia Farrow is excellent again under Allen’s direction, and at certain times (especially when lying to her husband) begins to sound like him. Jeff Daniels is okay as the bland 1930s adventurer come to life, although he’s rather restricted by role’s unavoidable thinness.
1985: Nomination: Best Original Screenplay