Purple Rain (1984 USA)

I despise motion pictures with no real importance that take themselves too seriously – and this is the pinnacle of that description. If you want to hear Prince’s music, his score for the first “Batman” is infinitely superior. To me, Prince was a brown American David Bowie. (But not as good a songwriter or dynamic a vocalist) Intensely self-conscious and always posing. A bit like a shop mannikin. This is a self-serving, ego-maniacal extended music video. But Prince can’t act while his slutty girlfriend can barely stand up. She is here to convince any doubters that the effeminate-looking Prince is really a hetero who can slap a bitch around.

This is a by-the-numbers story of the Kid (Prince), a singer on his way to becoming a star. Then he falls in love with Apollonia (Appolonia Kotero). But he has to deal with his wife-beating father (Clarence Williams III) and his own self-destructive behavior. And that is the potato chip thin plot. The story is screamingly obvious and has been done many times before. The script is terrible–lousy dialogue and some truly painful “comedy” routines. And there’s tons of misogyny here–The Kid’s mother getting beaten; The Kid hitting Appolonia and (for no reason) Appolonia strips to swim in a dirty river while he leers. Also Williams’ and Princes’ characters treat women in a consistently horrible manner. As for the subplot, we are supposed to be witnesses to a love triangle. But Prince is less believable than a Barbie doll.

As I’m not a fan (I like 3 or 4 of his songs) I couldn’t care less if Prince was gay or not. But don’t try to come off like a world class Casanova when you wear lipstick and garters to bed. I thought he was supposed to be this big, seductive ladies’ man? Yet he’s wearing lace! And no need to wonder if that’s eyeliner Prince is wearing. They actually show him applying it. And any man who’s favourite colour is “purple” has a sexuality that’s probably not 100% straight. Even the constant misogyny is a well known homosexual trait. As for Appolonia, what does she even see in this guy? In the story he isn’t successful so it can’t be money or fame, plus he lives in his mother’s basement! As for daddy, he is a violently alpha male, so there’s no way he would approve of his son dressing up all camp and flowery. But this is a fairy tale, so….

Unlike Micheal Jackson in his short video clip ‘Thriller’, Prince is a bore. Even when he rocks out, he never really comes alive, and neither does the movie. Of course the one great thing that Purple Rain has going for it is that extremely 80s vibe with that dark cinematography and a few good songs and stage performances, the best of which is “Let’s Go Crazy.” For those of us alive during that era it is somewhat pleasantly nostalgic. Appollonia, of course, is a hottie but couldn’t much act her way out of a paper bag, although it’s a contest with the ever mumbling Prince I am sure. So, if you want to watch a work of quality please avoid Purple Rain. But if you want to see someone who resembles Liza Minelli with a moustache, or Kermit the Frog on a motorbike, or just an androgynous young chap pacing back and forth in his mommy’s basement with all the rage of a caged mouse, then Purple Rain is your thang. 🙂


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