Purple Violets is a drama about relationships and to a lesser extent, the world of fiction writing. The main focal point of Purple Violets is Patti Petalson (Selma Blair), who has been married for seven years to over-bearing chef Chazz Coleman (Donal Logue). Patti is a real estate sales person but longs to indulge her true passion, fiction writing. Her former college boyfriend Brian Callahan (Patrick Wilson) is actually living that dream and has become a famous novelist. He has become so famous in fact that his Knight detective series has been made into feature films and his best friend and lawyer Michael Murphy (Edward Burns) handles his business arrangements and negotiations.
One night Patti and Kate Scott (Debra Messing), Patti’s best friend since college, go out to eat at a restaurant and bump into Brian and Michael. Sparks fly during this encounter but not the romantic kind. Kate and Michael used to be involved years before in college and their break up was not an amicable one.
Throughout the course of Purple Violets, Patti is continuously tested and challenged by forces both outer and inner. The testing comes from her rapidly disintegrating marriage and its intrinsic relationship. The challenge comes from Brian’s new presence in her life and his success at what he loves to do for a living. Patti loves the same thing and the more she is around Michael, the more the need to release the subdued begins to germinate in her mind. Patti begins dreaming again, wanting that part of her life back. This element of Purple Violets will probably hit and resonate with viewers who lament the bygone days where self-indulgence and wool-gathering were everyday occurrences. Being responsible, earning a pay check and “contributing” to the household’s income, soon becomes not enough and unsatisfactory to Patti, as in many people’s lives. Patti needs more, is more and through Brian realizes that again.
Patti isn’t the only character in Purple Violets to come to a self-realization about themselves. The other epiphanies within this film are not as impactful as Patti’s however and belong to Kate and Michael. The viewer pretty-much knows what is going to happen between Kate and Michael because of the present level of anger and animosity directed at one from the other. This level of hatred between former lovers can’t exist unless its opposite resided there first.
Edward Burns’ Purple Violets is a romantic drama a few rungs better than I thought it would be. Since sardonic Norton is the writer of the film as well, there are moments of levity but it is the quieter moments, like the film’s final six minutes, that make the Purple Violets worth a viewing, especially if you’re with someone special.