MIFF #5: Today’s we have another guest review from Yalin of the MIFF film (and potential upcoming general release TBC), I Love You Phillip Morris, which was released in the UK several months ago. Thanks Yalin!
The poster for I Love You Phillip Morris shows a gay couple with two pooches, Barbie-like hair and glowing skin. They carry the trademark smile that Jim Carrey is famous for. The whole thing beckons like a straight-up comedy from the wrapper, but the film’s deep and thoughtful handling of the true story of Steven Russell and Phillip Morris makes Ficarra and Requa’s film a highly enjoyable experience.
Steven Russell is a cop who does well and means well. On the surface, he is in a loving marriage with a religious wife who would make any Texan proud. But God wants him to come out, and so he does after a car accident forces him to reassess his life. He reveals to his wife that he is gay and he has been having affairs. He moves to Miami, gets a boyfriend and starts living the sex-and-the-city life.
However, as they mention in the film, being gay is expensive. Clever as he is, Steven beats the system with fraud and becomes a con man to get beautiful things for himself and his lover. All’s well until finally he gets caught and put in jail. This may sound like the end of the story, but actually, it is just the beginning.
His time in jail brings love to his life when he meets Phillip Morris, and for love, he’s ready to do anything. The following 80 minutes or so surprise, delight, depress and force the viewer into fits of laughter. This crazy, clever, romantic man does what he can to make sure they stay together despite their circumstances and to enjoy what life has to offer. It might just be the best romantic comedy for those who hate traditional romantic comedies as it is littered with dark themes that remind us we’re watching a true story.
With his performance as Steven Russell, Jim Carrey once again proves he is an actor with range. The Carrey we watch is not the same one we’ve seen in any of his screwball comedies; it’s closer to his performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. His trademark cheesy smile is still there, but his portrayal is inherently believable and convincing. Similarly, Ewan McGregor matches Carrey’s performance with his wide eyes, naiveté, and Southern accent.
The great performances of the leads are coupled with an astute script and effective editing that drives home the surprising tactics of this con man. At more than one occasion, I found myself as deceived as anyone else in the film.
I Love You Phillip Morris has the right amount of all things essential to make it a great film. This is one that shouldn’t be missed so go buy your ticket!