The tone of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa‘s I Love You Phillip Morris is hard to describe. It’s a kind of dark comedy (i.e., there are bits that are intended to draw laughter), but since it’s a tale of obsessive gay loony love there’s really not that much to “laugh” at. But there’s conviction in it — the emotions are as real as it gets — and the performances by Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor as the lovers are intense and out-there and fully grounded. Nobody’s putting anyone on, I mean.
The tone is somewhere between high-toned soap opera and hyper-real absurdism, but it’s more or less fact-based. And the things that make it respectable and worthy and bold (which I feel it definitely is) are the sad moments, the irrational I-love-you acts, the bad behavior, the hurt. It’s nuts, this movie, and that’s what I liked about it. Love is strange, silly, demeaning, glorious, heartbreaking. A drug and a tidal wave that can destroy as easily as restore. And I Love You Phillip Morris is not laughing at this. At all. It’s a movie with balls and dicks and loads of heart and soul.
I have to go to the breakfast being hosted by IFC Films for Steven Soderbergh (which starts in half an hour). I can get into Phillip Morris a bit more this afternoon.
I like this line from the Sundance notes: “As a primer on the irresistible power of a man who is either insane or in love (is there a difference?), I Love You Phillip Morris surely serves to remind us of the resilience of the human spirit.”
Longtime writing partners Ficarra and Requa are making their directing debut with this. It’s based based on the true-life tale of Steve Russell (Carrey), a onetime married police officer turned gay Texan con man, and his passionate love he shares with “blonde southern queer” named Phillip Morris (McGregor) whom he meets in prison, where he’s been sent for credit card fraud.
Carrey’s website says that “after reading the script, he immediately signed to do the movie, explaining that there have been only three scripts that he truly felt compelled to do — The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and this.
“The film had a very low budget, estimated to be just $14 million,” it reads. “It was initially to be directed by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting), but he dropped out to make Milk. So Carrey agreed to let Ficarra and Requa direct. The financing is from director Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp. The filmmakers hope to sell domestic rights at the Sundance Film Festival.”