Director: John Requa, Glenn Fiquarra
Cast: Jim Carrey, Ewan Mcgregor, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro
RunTime: 1 hr 38 mins
Released By: Festive Films & Cathay-Keris
Rating: R21 (Homosexual Content)
Official Website: http://www.europacorp.com/dossiers/iloveyou/
Opening Day: 30 September 2010
The improbable real-life story of a charismatic conman’s journey from small-town businessman to flamboyant white-collar criminal, starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.
Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) is happily married to Debbie (Leslie Mann) and a member of the local police force when a car accident provokes a dramatic reassessment of his life. Steven realizes he’s gay and decides to live his life to the fullest – even if it means breaking the law. Steven’s new, extravagant lifestyle involves cons and fraud and, eventually, a stay in the State Penitentiary where he meets sensitive, soft-spoken Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). His devotion to freeing Philip from jail and building the perfect life together prompts Steven to attempt – and often succeed at – one impossible con after another.
Adapted from the true story told by crime reporter Steve McVicker in his book of the same title, I Love You Philip Morris is an oddball tale of what can happen when the legal system, a daredevil spirit, and undying love collide.
Mired in distribution hell for the better part of a year, "I Love You Phillip Morris" finally and almost improbably arrives on our shores, albeit with a ridiculously high classification. It started off with some heavy buzz in the festival circuit after being said to feature Jim Carrey’s most subversive comedic role to date as a gay felon (gasp!). This based-on-true-events film does turn corners into some unlikely territories – sometimes heartwarming, sometimes infuriating but always amusing.
Carrey plays Steven Russell (recounting these events in his life), happily married family man with a steady cop job in a small town who tires of his homosexual trysts after a near-death experiences and decides to live as a proud gay man. He goes the full stretch as he transforms himself into the lifestyle he’s always wanted to live. But as he soon realises that 'being gay is really expensive', and resorts to becoming a conman to sustain his flamboyant thrills, falling back into lies and facades. Steven eventually gets caught and thrown into jail where he meets and falls for the quiet, sensitive and utterly naïve Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). When circumstances force them apart, Steven uses his guile and deception to bring them back together to live the life they have always wanted. Well, nobody said it was easy going straight.
To cover the expansive plotting, the pacing of the film veers towards frenetic at times, feeding off Carrey’s manic energy. He has rarely shown this much verve and complete abandon in his overtly comedic performances in the last decade. By contrast, the low-key McGregor seems positively bland beside him. But then again, if Carrey’s the film’s gut-buster then McGregor is its heart, providing some of the film’s more grounded moments. To its credit, their relationship remains credible, even if Steven’s more outlandish schemes tend to augur disbelief in the story’s basis in true events.
Written by the same team behind the brilliant "Bad Santa", the film has cleverness carved right into it. "I Love You Phillip Morris" eschews any sort of dramatic irony, keeping the audience in as much suspense as Phillip in regards to the true intentions of Steven, the self-obsessed master conman. There are genuine surprises in the film, most of them welcome. Throughout, it warps into a chimera of genres – a quirky character piece, a caper, and a romantic comedy. Twining the Steven’s continued search of consumerist pleasures and the continued struggle of maintaining a relationship with the innocent Philip posits an angle of ambition over contentment, it even asks us something resembling fundamental about the nature of love.
(Jim Carrey resurges in his finest comedy in ages)
Review by Justin Deimen