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August 2, 2010 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

I Love You, Phillip Morris

Film

It was The Truman Show that revealed Jim Carrey’s serious acting chops to the world—an unexpected revelation against the goofy slapstick he is famous for. The subsequent films he has made since have been a mixed bag of both restrained dramatic performances (The Majestic, Eternal Sunshine) and his trademark OTT comedic stylings (Bruce Almighty, Yes Man). I Love You, Phillip Morris provides Carrey with what might be his best-suited role yet in real-life con man Steven Russell—a character that allows room for both Carrey’s physical comedy and emotional depth.

Based off the fascinating true story of Russell’s exploits—his cons, arrests and numerous prison escapes—the film has plenty to keep us interested in the way of Catch Me If You Can-style con capers. Even if you don’t go see the film, you could do worse than Googling the actual guy (his resume is pretty impressive). But as the title suggests, the film is romantic at its core, centering on Russell’s relationship with his boyfriend/prison roommate: Phillip Morris (a likable Ewan McGregor). Directors Ficara and Requa cut no corners sexually, with quite a brave and explicit depiction (well, as far as mainstream cinema is concerned) of the couple’s relationship.

But the actors save it from being meaningless shock with heartfelt and dedicated performances. Ewan McGregor’s quiet and sweet Morris is a delight, and makes for a perfect contrast to Russell’s confident exuberance. While most of the characterisation is spent on Russell, kudos to McGregor for managing to still make Morris believable and human. But the film belongs to Carrey, who gives a fantastic performance; funny, affecting and sometimes, offering glimpses of a desperate torment within. By the time the film builds to its climax between them, there is a darker, tragic tone underlying the screwball comedy, ending on a surprisingly moving note that sneaks up on you. The comedy occasionally misfires, and the film isn’t as cohesive as it means to be, but I Love You, Phillip Morris is a bold, romantic and ultimately tragic comedy, boasting great performances and compelling, fact-based entertainment.

I Love You, Phillip Morris.
Director: Glenn Ficara & John Requa

[ssba]

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