For years I have been saying that someone needs to give Selma Blair a leading role in a movie, now finally it seems hack director Edward Burns has taken my advice. The result is not your usual male orientated fair; in short it’s a “chick” movie that follows the life and loves of a young woman desperately reaching out for more from life.
I’m not a big lover of Edward Burns, his movies and his acting bores me, ever since the arty Brothers McMullan back in 1995, the Edward Burns vehicle is not one I enjoy being part of, in short I just do not get the fascination with this actor, and when I learned that he was the second billed cast member as well as the writer and director of Purple Violets, I was almost tempted to eject the DVD before the movie had even really begun. But this is not your usual Edward Burns fare; usually the actor somehow gets to play the exciting, desirable leading man. Here Burns is a sort of parody of how I see him, a thirty something, recovering alcoholic, who used to think he was something but is now very much aware of his own mortality.
The story surrounds two women Patti Petalson (Selma Blair) and Kate Scott (Debra Messing) both have been friends for years, Patti is an ex-novelist who is trapped in a loveless marriage and a job that really is draining her life’s breath. Kate is more hardened to life’s little issues and will take no nonsense, something in her past being the problem. On a girls night out to celebrate Kate’s birthday, the two come across the problem from Kate’s past, Michael Murphy (Edward Burns) an old flame from her past who broke her heart so badly that for over 10 years she has been unable to recover. Michael is not however alone, his dinner guest is Brian Callaghan (Patrick Wilson) a successful novelist whose books about detective Frank Knight are all being turned into movies. Brian as it happens is also an old flame from Patti’s life, their paths also had not crossed in many years, but all are about to go on an emotional journey to discover the life they have lost.
Blair leads with her strength, and her usual characteristic weakness; making every scene she appears in warm to your heart. Blair is one of those actresses that while being incredibly beautiful can also play the role of the plain girl we all knew but never dated. As the movie progresses we watch the transformation of her character as it blossoms into a beautiful butterfly. The wonder however of Purple Violets is it’s not as cut and dry as you might think.
The movie is very much like real life, it’s a thoughtful and hopeful piece that gives you the power and the enthusiasm to make changes in the things in your life that are not working out, all it needed for Patti was one solitary individual to open her eyes and awaken her to a world where she is not a failure, but an inspiration to all.
The remainder of the cast do well, Messing is charming as the colourful tongued Kate, a woman who is not prepared to engage in second chances and delivers each hostile line with a humorous punch. While Patrick Wilson plays for the straight role, the only one in the movie as the sort of person we all know, and to some degree want to be, although he in turn wants, no needs to be like every one of us. If I have one casting criticism then it’s with Donal Logue as Patti’s husband Chazz, Logue delivers one of the most excruciatingly painful British accents I have EVER heard in my life, stumbling between South African, Irish, and Australian the actor just does not know where he is going, and the result makes him the most dislikeable person in the movie, a real hindrance in fact to an otherwise stellar piece. Even Burns, really delivers the goods, and I cannot stand the guy.
P.T. Walkley’s musical score is out of place, but perfectly enjoyable, as isolated music it works incredibly well, with the movie although it works well it gives the impression of a very different film.
Purple Violets as I said at the start is not necessarily the sort of movie that most men will like, or at least admit too. But it carefully ensures not to cross the paths of traditional “Girls” movies, keeping enough raw and gritty matter around that an honest man might not only watch the movie, but actually enjoy it.