Purple Rain

Image for Purple Rain

A talented young singer, The Kid, on the cusp of big things, hits it off with a female singer, but neither path will run smoothly, as his own upbringing issues begin to cloud his judgment.


A fairly dappy and overlong attempt to turn Prince the then emergent rock-funk superstar into a movie star. It didn’t work at all, but the soundtrack album became a classic. And that there is barely a plot worth speaking of is circumvented by the marketing spiel appealing to us that such a powerful tale is the result of it being semi-autobiographical, a trick that made hit movies out of everyone from Al Jolson to Eminem. Thus Prince, as The Kid, is a struggling but clearly brilliant musician-singer-sex bomb from Minneapolis, who wrestles with his troubles, including a bad old pop (Clarence Williams III), comes good through his musical expression to do a stonking gig for the big finale. That’s pretty much it, and Albert Ragnoli sensibly keeps his camera pointed squarely at Prince and his luminous locks, clearly aware having a genuine icon in the middle of your movie is a real boon.

        It’s his crappy attempt to add a layer of psychology just ruins things. Most of us would be happy just to sit through a convoluted assemblage of videos and concert footage, which otherwise the film is, without the banal rot about an artist’s self-destructive urges. We learned all about those when the diminutive funkster started drawing on his face and changed his name to a squiggle. Here given Prince isn’t half the actor Eminem is (a strange sort of sentence for a film review) he just comes across as a petulant brat, rather than the symbolically tortured artist. 

            The music, however, is divine. From ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ to ‘When Doves Cry’ it gifts the film a power it doesn’t deserve in filmmaking terms, as the short-stuff with the licks from heaven, launches into a heart-stopping version of the title song, its hard to not join in.

One for Prince fans. If you like the rocker, you'll like the film.