Say what you want about Woody Allen's personal life, but his films are always unique. He comes up with weird, whimsical stories that always stand out, and he is incredibly prolific. The Purple Rose of Cairo is one of his best. It's a movie that balances the wonder of cinema with the harsh disappointment of reality. It gives Jeff Daniels a great dual performance to shine in, and it really underlines how important movies are to some people. Sometimes they're the only enjoyment we can get in life.
Cecilia (Farrow) is a wife and a waitress, but she wants something more out of life. It's 1935 New Jersey, and the pictures are the only place she can go to enjoy life for a while. Her asshole husband Monk (Aiello) gambles, drinks, and sleeps around on her, but she has eyes for Tom Baxter (Daniels), a character in a movie she's gone to see a dozen times called The Purple Rose of Cairo. Somehow, Tom notices and leaps off the movie screen and into the real world to be with her, disrupting the flow of the movie and causing a panic. The actor who plays Tom, Gil Shepherd (also Daniels) flies to Jersey to somehow fix this, and he falls for Cecilia too. Now she has to choose between a fictional character and the real thing. It's such an inventive concept for a movie, and it's executed extremely well.
My only gripe is the gut-punch of an ending that you're not really expecting. It totally makes sense and works for the movie. It just hurts a lot because it's so damn callous. What I love most about this one is how it treats the importance of movies. Movies are everything to me, as you can clearly tell by this website and the podcast. They represent a much-needed escape for so many people, and you don't see a lot of filmmakers truly understand that the way Woody Allen does with this film.