13 sept. 2010

My Review: I Love You Phillip Morris (7/10)

¨My whole life was nothing but a bunch of lies. Lies to make people give me their money, lies to make people love me, and lies to keep them from leaving me, and in the process I lost track of who I was.¨

Jim Carrey plays the love interest of Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor) in this romantic comedy/drama directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. The directors have worked together in the past writing the screenplay for Bad Santa and Cats and Dogs, but this is the first time that they actually direct a film written by them. This is not your typical Jim Carrey goofy comedy, the performance is a little more serious and it is a different type of comedy that isn`t afraid of taking risks and being original. Carrey`s performance is more like the ones he did in Man on the Moon, The Majestic, or The Truman Show. The screenplay is adapted from Steve McVicker`s book which is based on true events about a gay conman who meets the love of his life in prison and will do whatever it takes to escape from prison to be with him. Carrey is a good actor, but I think who really steals this movie is Ewan McGregor who plays a very different kind of role than what we have seen from him in the past. This movie hasn`t been released in the US yet, although it was previewed in January 2009 at the Sundance Film Festival. I don`t know why it has taken so long for this movie to find a wide release in the US, but it is a very original comedy that may have a little trouble at finding a target audience. This movie takes a lot of risks and therefore probably was never meant to become a hit, but more of a small and quiet indie comedy. It is the Catch Me if You Can movie for gays.

The movie is narrated by the main protagonist Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) who is lying in his hospital bed and telling us the story of his life. When he was a young boy his parents let him know that he was adopted and ever since he becomes obsessed with trying to find his biological mother. He is a happily married man living with his wife Debbie (Leslie Mann) and working as a police officer in order to try to discover who his real mother is. Once he finds the information he needs, he visits her and discovers she wants nothing to do with him. Steven doesn`t understand why she gave him up for adoption, even more since he was the middle son. From that point on he decides to quit the police force and tell his wife about the secret he has been keeping from her: that he is gay and has been for a long time. This confession sets him free and he begins to live life to its fullest, although this lifestyle he`s living is pretty expensive. He moves to Miami and finds a boyfriend Jimmy (Rodrigo Santoro), but their luxurious lifestyle together makes him become a conman and it is not too long until the police catch up to him and arrests him. But fate has a funny way of doing things and it is in prison where he meets his soul mate Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). Their romance blossoms in the prison and when they are released as well, but Steven continues to live a life of lies and sooner or later it will catch up to him again.

Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor are one of the reasons this movie stands out. They give some good and strong performances and impress us by doing something different. The movie has its ups and downs, it is not an excellent film or a laugh out loud movie, it is more of a romantic drama that will make you smile at some points. Carrey`s character is so buried in a world of lies and frauds that one would think he would be impossible to like, but he creates a difficult character because it is hard not to sympathize with him. We find ourselves rooting for him each time he escapes from prison, impersonates a lawyer, or becomes a chief financial adviser for an important company. These are the people everyone hates in real life, conmen, but Carrey makes his character a likeable one while at the same time not trying to sugarcoat him the way Hollywood does with most thieves. Steven Russell knows his flaws, but we identify with him because we see his actions as some sort of addiction and issue he can`t surpass. He knows it will affect his relationship and his life, but he can´t help from being a conman because it is what he is good at. The film works combining all these elements very well into this sort of romantic comedy/drama. It is not a film for everyone, but I found it entertaining.

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