I Love You Phillip Morris
Review by Cassam Looch
IT MIGHT come across as a true story out of the big book of Coen Brothers’ movies, but I Love you Phillip Morris is still a funny and rewarding film that has a fantastic Jim Carrey performance to its credit.
Steven Russell (Carrey) leads a seemingly average life – an organ player in the local church, happily married to Debbie (Leslie Mann), and a member of the local police force.
That is until he has a severe car accident that leads him to the ultimate epiphany: he’s gay and he’s going to live life to the fullest – even if he has to break the law to do it.
Taking on an extravagant lifestyle, Steven turns to cons and fraud to make ends meet and is eventually sent to the State Penitentiary where he meets the love of his life, a sensitive, soft-spoken man named Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor).
His devotion to freeing Phillip from jail and building the perfect life together prompts him to attempt (and often succeed at) one impossible con after another.
Told with an uncanny sense of humour and a lot of heart, I Love You Phillip Morris is an oddball tale of what can happen when the legal system, a daredevil spirit and undying love collide.
This is an oddball film, in the best possible sense. It also boasts a career high performance from Carrey (including his turns in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Truman Show) and some incredibly brave acting choices.
The question as to how genuine it all is soon put to the back of your mind as the startling action on screen gives way to some cleverly crafted cons and an endearing (if unconventional) love story.
The two leads have great fun, but it is Carrey who commands your attention going to great lengths, including physical extremes, to get it just right.
It is very hard to place the film in any genre as it covers a lot of ground in its brief runtime. We follow Steven as he leads a settled and seemingly uneventful life as a happily married man living on the right side of the law.
When the changes happen, they are sudden… but Carrey manages to make them feel very natural. He clearly restrains himself from his usual OTT mannerisms and allows the events to take centre-stage.
In doing so, we get to see his most mature acting performance to date and confirmation that he really can deliver when presented with a script that allows for him to do more than a few facial ticks.
As brisk as the film is, it still lags in a few places. The long prison based sequences, when Steven and Phillip first meet, could have been cut down somewhat as they tend to become a little repetitive in terms of what they are trying to achieve. A few of the supporting characters drift into caricature and, of those, Leslie Mann is given very little to do beyond the opening moments.
Still I Love you Phillip Morris is a challenging and entertaining film which pushes its stars and audiences all the way… but rewards them in kind.
Running time: 102mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: August 2, 2010