Movie: Purple Rain
My Rating: 3 stars
This movie is completely nuts. I don’t think I’ve seen a film that’s so obviously a product of its era in a very long time. Everything about this movie is so 80s—the feathered hair, the garish makeup, all the casual battery of women. It’s really something. Although, I guess Prince has always been a creature that transcends time and space. He’d fit in just about anywhere. That guy is such a foreign creature—very much like David Bowie in the way he’s genderless, genreless, and completely dismissive of rules and conventional wisdom. But, Prince is still pretty confident in his sex appeal. Pretty impressive for a wee gentleman of 5 foot 2.
This movie is supposed to be a semi-autobiographical story about Prince’s rise as a young musician. And, to me, “semi-autobiographical” means that timelines are compressed, and all the key details are exaggerated. This is Prince’s creative vehicle, so he has the freedom to make himself look as smooth and sexy as he wants. And, it’s pretty clear that he took full advantage of this right. Prince presents himself as the fresh, new face in the Minneapolis music scene, and he’s really making a name for himself. But, he has to contend with the crooked club owners, who are looking to make a fast buck, and lure their female employees into bed. Prince is definitely trying to cast himself as the sympathetic good guy. But, he’s just as guilty of treating the women in this story very poorly. He’s always trying to humiliate them, and discount their talents and contributions. It’s a bit incongruous.
I always find it hilarious when old movies are trying to be sexy. It always just highlights how much fashion and society’s sensibilities change—or how ephemeral style is in general. Although, it’s not always the case that we’ve been moving steadily toward more libertinism and debauchery as time marches on. These things ebb and flow. The 80s are known as an era of hedonism and self-indulgence, and all the ruffles, lace, lingerie-as-outerwear, and plunging necklines reflect that. And, that’s just Prince!! He’s rocking a seriously exhilarating collection of little, velvet, pirate pants, and elfin, high-heeled boots. It’s adorable. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the reaction the petit monsieur was hoping for. Perhaps it’s that insecurity that inspired him to act like such an asshole to all the women in this film. He’s really quite a jerk. I certainly wouldn’t have put up with all the antics Apollonia does. But, what do I know? That could have been a character choice. However, this movie is supposed to be about Prince’s life, so….
You should see this movie. It’s a classic. And, it’s pretty darn entertaining too. It’s hilarious, for one thing—unintentionally, of course, but that’s the best kind. And, it’s also great if you’re into Prince’s music, because it features tons of songs. But, really you need to see this movie for your own cultural literacy. I came to it way too late in life, and I don’t want you to make the same mistake.