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  I Love You Phillip Morris The Long Con
Year: 2009
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Stars: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Antoni Corone, Brennan Brown, Michael Mandel, Annie Golden, Marylouise Burke, David Jensen, Dameon Clarke, Clay Chamberlin, Louis Herthum, Morgana Shaw, Joe Chrest, Griff Furst, Aunjanue Ellis
Genre: Comedy, BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: This story is true. It really happened. It's about Steven Russell (Jim Carrey), who learned at an early age that he was being fooled when it was revealed to him that he was adopted. He didn't show it, but thereafter he was obsessed with finding his real mother, and to do so he thought the best method was by becoming a police officer, which he did, and a successful one at that. One day, he brought home records of his adoption which he had illegally secured, and with his wife (Leslie Mann) they looked through them until the name of Steven's mother was revealed. But that's not the most extraordinary thing about his behaviour...

No indeed, he was just getting started on a career of criminality that saw him humiliate everyone he came into contact with, not because he was mean-minded, but because, according to this, he did not know any better. And when I say everyone, I mean it as he not only embarrassed his wife but he embarrassed the former President of the United States of America, George W. Bush, and many in between. This was a film that undoubtedly would be more effective if you had never heard of Steven Jay Russell, because the way first time directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa wrote the script, the surprises were its strongest suit.

Although the first one was blurted out all over the media wherever it was released, so I may as well do the same here: in spite of supposedly being happily married with a young daughter to take care of, Russell was actually gay and carrying out promiscuous sex with any man he could pick up. The reason this became more significant was that he was not played by an unknown, or even a homosexual leading man (there must be some), but by one of the biggest stars of his generation, Jim Carrey. Gay audiences were cheered to see not only the star playing such a role, but not making an issue of it, as the rest of the film accepted Steven's personality as a given.

This was probably down to the other aspects of his personality being far more notable, although as he inevitably got sent to prison for fraud, living beyond his means with his new boyfriend to put it mildly, his sexual orientation is a plot point. This was thanks to another big star playing the man of the title, Ewan McGregor doing excellent work as the meek and tearful Phillip Morris who Steven met in jail and fell head over heels in love with. Not that this prevented him from ruining the object of his desire's life even further, yet the weird thing about this is that Steven excused himself his outrageous lies because he genuinely thought he was doing it all for love.

Yes, he's a hopeless romantic at heart, and as the frauds begin to pile up, each one more ludicrous than the last, it's this sentimentality that he holds onto, as if he were the star of his own movie, which ironically was what he became, only he didn't get to play himself. Carrey was drawn to this as a dramatic choice, but he essays it as if he were still in one of his comedies, not going way over the top with the gags exactly, but aiming for the laughs which he's skillful enough to secure - some of this is very funny. However, this approach somehow makes the bizarre twists all the more believable, if they'd gone for the grey-hued true crime grind it wouldn't have been half as absorbing. In a way this works against its more serious scenes, but then, so did the real Russell, and the big revelation at the end will shock you even as you think, yeah, that happened. It was a story worth telling - you couldn't make this up. Music by Nick Urata.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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