CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor Make Unique Couple in ‘I Love You Phillip Morris’
CHICAGO – John Requa and Glenn Ficarra’s “I Love You Phillip Morris” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival nearly two years ago and was released internationally so long ago that it’s out on DVD in most markets around the world. After financial difficulties plagued the first company intent on stateside distribution, the movie sat on a shelf and most of us assumed it would be making its U.S. debut on a round shiny disc. Surprisingly, after months of uncertainty, Roadside Attractions is releasing the film in theaters this week, right in the heart of awards season, and it’s not hard to see why they have confidence in the project, but it’s just as easy to see why it hasn’t played in theaters earlier.
Most will point to the subject matter and frank depiction of homosexuality as what scared away potential distributors and “I Love You Phillip Morris” will certainly shock Jim Carrey fans looking for something like “Bruce Almighty,” but I don’t think that’s the problem with the movie or why businessmen couldn’t figure out how to market it. It’s more an issue of inconsistent tone. Is this a comedy? Love story? Drama? Shocking true tale? The first half of “I Love You Phillip Morris” cruises by on the strength of one of Carrey’s best performances but when the movie loses its way in an emotionally-manipulative final act it crashes to the ground. It’s somewhat appropriate that the movie nearly debuted on DVD stateside since it’s worth a rental for Carrey but too frustrating for the cost of theatrical admission.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “I Love You Phillip Morris” in our reviews section.|
There was a brief time when it looked like Jim Carrey would transcend his slapstick background to become one of our more interesting actors. Films like “The Truman Show,” “Man on the Moon,” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” all feature an actor willing to take chances and delivering the emotional goods. He should have been Oscar-nominated for all three. Sadly, he wasn’t, and I’ve long felt that lack of critical and peer recognition is one of the reasons he went back to easy junk like “Horton Hears a Who” and “Yes Man.”
“I Love You Phillip Morris” features the Carrey willing to take risks. He’s simply great here as a man who learns that he was adopted and, essentially, develops a life-long identity crisis because of it. He leaves his wife (Leslie Mann, good but so familiar in this kind of role that it’s starting to become a cliche for her to play them), comes screaming out of the closet, and begins a life of identity and credit fraud to keep himself and his boyfriends in luxury. When he’s caught, Steven Russell heads to prison where he meets the gentle, beautiful Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor) and falls in love.
I Love You Phillip Morris
Photo credit: Roadside Attractions