I Love You Phillip Morris

Director    Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Starring    Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Ted Alderman, Nicholas Alexander, Brennan Brown
Release    30 APR (US) 17 MAR (UK)    Certificate 15
4 stars


18th March 2010

Oscar nominations for gay cowboys and a win for Sean Penn's gay politician; Hollywood loves homosexuals, as long as it's all kept clean. I Love You Phillip Morris gained massive plaudits at Sundance last year but struggled to find a US distributor comfortable with its somewhat graphic content.

The film won't see the light of day on American shores until the end of April, and even then, it's a limited release. Us liberal Brits however can revel in Carrey and McGregor's bum-fun before God-fearing, anti-gay, anti-Semitic, Middle-Americans inevitably picket every cinema this shows at until the Second Coming.

So after a re-edit and a change of tone, Bad Santa writers and debut directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa's true tale of love n' fraud finally makes it to the big screen. And it's all we could've hoped for.

[gallery]Jim Carrey plays Steven Russell; a family man with a nice life in Virginia Beach, a great job as a local policeman and a perfect wife and daughter. However, he has a big secret - he's gay. So when a near fatal car crash makes him re-evaluate his life, he decides to indulge his gay ways, leave his family and relocates to Miami. But being gay is REALLY expensive, so he becomes a conman. When the law eventually catch up to him and he's banged up for fraud, he meets and falls in love with fellow inmate, Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor).

Despite the title, this is all about Steven Russell, a professional conman with a Catch Me If You Can attitude, played superbly by an on-form Jim Carrey, jumping into a tricky role with gusto. It's a dream role for Carrey, blending his old-school physical, rubber-faced comedy antics of the '90s with the more mature, serious roles he's taken on in recent years. As ever, his comic timing is impeccable, but when the tone of the film gets a little darker, he follows suit perfectly.
Ewan McGregor, playing the gentle, sweet and naive Phillip Morris, manages to hold his own alongside the flamboyance of Jim Carrey. McGregor's Morris is the quieter, 'feminine' half of the relationship. He does however, play gay more convincingly than Carrey. Like Steven and Phillip, Carrey and McGregor have an instant chemistry. You'll care for them and really believe they are deeply in love.

Crucially, the film doesn't joke about homosexuality, and even touches on the serious issue of AIDS. When we do see the odd bit of arse-action, it's nothing more than a bit of filler (no pun intended). Instead, directors Ficarra and Requa focus more on the love between Phillip and Steven, not just the lust. Being gay is never made into the punchline.

I Love You Phillip Morris is a rare cinematic gem -'one of the darkest, most hilarious comedies to come out of the closet in years. It's a touching, sentimental modern love story, but because of its limited release, it'll come and go and many will unfortunately miss out on Carrey at his career best. In a perfect world, he'd get a Best Actor Oscar nomination whilst McGregor a Best Supporting nod. If gay cowboys can, then why can't gay prisoners?

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