I Love You, Phillip Morris


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  France/USA, 2009.  EuropaCorp, , Consolidated Pictures Group.  Screenplay by John Requa, Glenn Ficarra, based on the book I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story Of Life, Love, And Prison Breaks by . Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by Dorian Awards 2010.  

Strange combination of comedy and pathos whose production inspired a promotion and release debacle that saw it delayed from theatres for over a year, before a quick run and eventual DVD distribution. Based on a true story, it stars  as a police officer and family man who is inspired by a near-death experience to stop living his life on the sly, come out of the closet to his religious wife () and move to Texas to start all over again. Before he knows it, he has a gorgeous new boyfriend () and a ritzy lifestyle, but the cost of keeping up appearances as a swanky gay man gets to be too much and he takes to Catch Me If You Can-level swindling in order to make ends meet. He doesn’t get very far before the law catches up with him, but when he lands himself in jail he becomes the centre of supply inside the pen and meets the love of his life in the form of sweet, lovely .  In the hilariously wry universe of this film, the time in jail is given the fondest sense of nostalgia, rich with safety and protection, while life on the outside is presented as a constant threat to our characters’ happiness.  It is possible that the film had trouble finding an audience because it presents the kind of gay men that marketing analysts don’t think mainstream audiences can relate to: these guys enjoy their sex lives without apology and there is not the tragic sense of romantic fatalism that makes gay sex so noble in movies like Brokeback Mountain. To be fair, as enjoyable as it is, the film is also a strangely uneven combination of elements, mostly due to Carrey’s inability to decide between caricature or character: even at his most hilarious (“So should I suck your dick?” “That’d be great!” he says with pluck) it seems difficult to decide if he is resurrecting Ace Ventura or trying to be a real human being. Either way, it’s a good time, with the two stars having a surprising level of sexy chemistry between them and, running beneath all the slapstick mayhem, there’s a genuine sense of sweet romance that leaves an affecting emotional memory.

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