I Can't Help But Love You Jim Carrey! -- I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)

One of the benefits of the internet is discovering that your local library shows free movies every week, what is even better is that they generally show pretty good films.  One such film was I Love You Phillip Morris, the joint offering from Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, perhaps better know for Bad Santa.  Disregarding the constant chatter of some old guys behind me, I genuinely enjoyed the film.  It is rare that great acting, cinematography and writing work together, however, Phillip Morris did just this and at no point faltered in its brilliant delivery.

The film follows Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) as he explains to viewers of his own life of lies starting with hiding his own homosexuality from his wife to large scale credit fraud.  It seems as though Steven finds his life of "secrets within a lie" to suit him even in jail, because he is willing to backhandedly deal with prison, assuring his safety through a variety of cons.  This all changes upon his discovery of another inmate, one Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor) who is also blatantly and irreversibly gay.  To win over his new soul mate Steven continues his conniving habits to woo Phillip to the point of absurdity, ultimately loosing his trust.  In the films closing scenes Steven uses his persistent trickery to win back Phillip in what is perhaps the films only sobering portion.  It is important at this point to note that the film is based on a true story and is set in the most unlikely of places...Texas.  The film is obvoiusly critiquing Texas in relation to the Bush family and the liberalism couldn't be more blatant, not that I mind.  However, this liberal bashing of conservatism is not the best part of the film, it is instead how frankly the idea of homosexuality is discussed.

The film is unapologetic in is portrayal of homosexuality, scenes of intimacy between Steven and Phillip occur frequently, even involving an on screen kiss between Carrey and McGregor.  Furthermore, with the exception of Steven's ex-wife, a devout Christian, no characters directly chastise their sexuality.  While passing mention made of their gayness it is never intending in a debasing manner, in fact, their homosexuality is in some sense exalted as liberating and transcendent in relation to the heteronormative.  The film also deals head on with AIDS, using it as a central theme to the plot, showing characters suffering from its crippling effects.  I find this portrayal of homosexuality notable, because it is so openly shown.  I know that films like Brokeback Mountain provided this commentary, but it is important to note how unacceptable it was in their social context to display intimacy.  It is a big step in film making fora star-driven film to show gay characters without compromising.  I can only hope that it will be a knock on the door for the MPAA to pump the breaks on rating of other films choosing to focus heavily on sexuality.

Whatever the case may be I highly recommend checking out I Love You Phillip Morris, if only to see Jim Carrey deliver yet another surprising performance.  Even if you find the movie a bit over the top, I am certain it will have you laughing.

More info here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1045772/

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