Posted by: Dr P | March 28, 2010

I Love You Phillip Morris

When we look back at the great screen couples, we inevitably think of Bogie and Bacall, Hepburn and Tracy, Sam and Frodo … to that we can now add the unlikely duo of Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. Their portrayal of doomed couple Steven Russell (Carrey) and Phillip Morris (McGregor) is both heart-warming and believable – scarily so, in fact, for two straight actors.

But rewind. As the film opens Russell is a happily married policeman with a young child, a seemingly idyllic life and is well respected by the law community. There’s just one small problem – he’s gay. A horrific car crash changes everything for Morris and he leaves his wife, moves to Florida and takes on a young male lover. But again there’s a problem. Being gay is EXPENSIVE. Now I’m not entirely sure if that’s true or not, but in Russell’s case it certainly is, as he showers his partner with lavish gifts. Of course he doesn’t actually have any money, so he is forced to do one thing which comes very naturally to him it seems – become a conman. “Accidental” falls, scamming insurance companies, whatever it takes.

Having finally been caught, Russell is sent to the state penitentiary, where to his shock he meets the instant love of his life, Phillip Morris, a softly-spoken sensitive soul. McGregor portrays this “leading lady” role incredibly well. The rest of the film follows Russell’s attempts to make a perfect life with the young Phillip, both inside prison and once they’re on the outside. Unfortunately this consists of increasingly-elaborate scams and charades which get more and more silly. At one point he even fakes his own death from Aids!

Incredibly, this is based on a true story, which just goes to show that truth is often stranger than fiction. It’s a charismatic, light-hearted romp through the mind of a con artist; everything Russell does, he does for his partner, and it’s very touching and sweet … and highly illegal!

This is a joyous movie from start to end; both leads are very good in their roles, particularly as they’re cast very differently to normal – McGregor in particular plays the gay wallflower most believably. His sheer despair and betrayal as Russell is caught time and again is palpable, while Carrey brings both joy and sadness to his role in equal measure.

A corking film!

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