DIR: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa • WRI: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa • PRO: Andrew Lazar, Far Shariat • DOP: Xavier Pérez Grobet • ED: Thomas J. Nordberg • DES: Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski • CAST: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann
The absurd and almost unclassifiable I Love You Phillip Morris will sit a little uncomfortably with any audience, for a whole range of reasons, but I challenge anyone not to find it utterly compelling. Imagine a Southern and bluntly sexual cross between The Royal Tenenbaums and Vicar in a Tutu by The Smiths and you’re getting close. Jim Carey plays the fascinating lead character Steven Russell and Ewan McGregor the demure, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Phillip Morris.
Mixing comedy and tragedy is nothing new, but what writer/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Bad Santa) have concocted is a dizzyingly fast paced story of hyper camp, criminal, love-bird misfits whose obliviousness to their own ridiculous tragedy is shot in such a bright comedic tone it feels almost cruel to watch. Viewers with even a slight homophobic streak will squirm in their seats and the more enlightened among us may treat it as an opportunity to show how very grown up and comfortable we are in our own sexuality, but either way, it puts our sense of propriety to the test.
Opening with a flawlessly timed scene in which Steven is told he was adopted, the film dives right in to a real life story of near death experiences, jailhouse romance, fraud and fakery that defies belief. Even with our narrator’s plaintive assurance ‘This really happened.. It really did’ this is one of the most incredible real life stories you are ever likely to encounter and all the way through, as in Jim Carey’s brilliant performance in Man On The Moon, you might suspect that there is some meta-trickery going on. The story is in fact based entirely on a true biography but it always stays two steps ahead of its audience with twists no one could possibly predict. You may get lost somewhere amongst all the complex schemes that Steven pulls off but when the film’s unforgettable final hand is dealt you’ll be impressed at the very least.
Audiences will come away from I Love You Phillip Morris with a sense that the film, like its main character, moved too fast to grasp and may be baffled by its blunt absurdity and lack of authorial reflection but my advice is don’t try too hard to define it or to extract some kind of general existential observation from it. Instead, let it carry you away and bemuse you like the life of this troubled chameleon clearly did to his loved ones and his biographers.
(See biog here)
I Love You Phillip Morris is released on 17 March 2010
I Love You Phillip Morris – Official Website