''A PURPLE TAXI,'' Yves Boisset's 1977 romantic drama that opens today at the Thalia Theater, was photographed entirely in the picturesque, rainbow-dappled countryside of Ireland, but it seems to be stateless, a movie made just outside the world's three-mile limit. The language is English, the director French and the cast members English, Russian-English, American, French and Italian, with some bit parts played by Irish actors.
''A Purple Taxi'' is about a group of attractive expatriates, who, for one dark reason and another, have settled in rural Ireland, there to fall in love and then to hurt - or to be hurt by -one another.
They include Jerry (Edward Albert), whose grandfather immigrated to America and made a vast fortune, which has financed Jerry's return to Ireland; Sharon (Charlotte Rampling), Jerry's pleasure-loving sister, presently married to the Prince of Hanover, who remains an off-screen character; Philip (Philippe Noiret), a Frenchman who has come to Ireland to get over the death of his son - ''Purple Taxi'' being the kind of fiction in which you expect people to take trips ''to think''; Taubelman (Peter Ustinov), who lives in a great old castle, hasn't a dime to his name and whose nationality is never disclosed, and Anne (Agostina Belli), his beautiful mute daughter. The only major ''Irish'' character is Dr. Scully, who, in addition to practicing medicine, drives a purple taxi and is tolerably quaint. He is played by Fred Astaire, whose brogue is as uncertain as the weather.
Even though the story makes no great sense, some of the performers are fun to watch, especially Mr. Ustinov, who often appears to be making up his own movie as he goes along, and Miss Rampling, an English actress whose casting as an American heiress is briskly explained when her brother says, ''You've changed your accent again!'' That, I suppose, is better than being told she went to camp in London as a child.
The film's occasional melodramatics are quite unbelievable. The dialogue is sometimes far more purple -'I chose the temporary but married the futile,'' says the Princess of Hanover to no particular point - than the taxi of the title.
© Vincent Canby, "The New York Times", Feb 19, 1982