Thursday, April 14, 2011


The less you know about the real-life antics of Steven Russell and the plot of the darkly hilarious I Love You Phillip Morris the better.  This is a movie made up of constant surprises and frequent twists and turns.  You'll find yourself repeatedly saying "This can't be true" or "This couldn't have really happened," but like the filmmakers state at the front of the film -- it did.  All of it.  And then some (post movie I read up online about the particulars and there's even more that was left out of the movie).  In short, I Love You Phillip Morris deals with Steven Russell (an amazing Jim Carrey in one of his best performances), a family man living a secret life as a con-artist.  One day, after a life-changing moment, he comes out of the closet, gets a hunky boyfriend, and moves down to Miami Beach, continuing the art of the con, and still maintaining a civil relationship with his wife and kids.  Then, he goes to jail, and that's when things get really complicated.  Steven immediately falls in love with a guy named Phillip Morris (wonderfully played by the always likable Ewan MacGregor) and basically makes it his life's goal to never be separated from him.  That's all I am going to say.  The rest is for you to discover.  What I will allow is this -- there was a moment where I was in total tears, emotionally crushed by what I was watching, only to have the rug pulled out from under my feet, leaving me in a state of stunned hysterics.  The film marks the directorial debut of the Glenn Ficarsa and John Requa, who also wrote the black-heartedly brilliant Bad Santa.  They are natural born directors with a quirky-stylish visual sensibility who hold an amazing talent for mixing crude one-liners with believable and unintrusive sentimentality which keeps their work grounded in reality, never pushing it into farce.  I Love You Phillip Morris effectively juggles multiple tones in its script, and while many scenes seem too crazy to be true, there's always something real and honest about an individual moment or line of dialogue that brings everything back down to reality.  It's a shame that there wasn't a wider release for this film because it's so fucking good and so unpredictable and enjoyable that it just goes to show you how homophobic our society really is.  My assumption is that the graphic gay sex scenes/dialogue were a turn off for all of the major Hollywood studios (indie distrib Roadside Attractions handled the movie and Luc Besson's French company Europa put up most of the production budget) because despite the name cast and accessible genre, nobody in Tinseltown wanted to deal with this film.  Pretty f'ing bogus if you ask me.  I Love You, Phillip Morris is the best movie you haven't seen.

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