Steven Russell is happily married to Debbie, and a member of the local police force when a car accident provokes a dramatic reassessment of his life. Steven becomes open about his homosexuality and decides to live life to the fullest - even if it means breaking the law. Steven's new, extravagant lifestyle involves cons and fraud and, eventually, a stay in the State Penitentiary where he meets sensitive, soft-spoken Phillip Morris. His devotion to freeing Phillip from jail and building the perfect life together prompts Steven to attempt and often succeed at one impossible con after another.Written by
The Film Catalogue
Carrey and McGregor shine in superbly crafted comedy
Continuing my MIFF reviews, I saw this last week with a packed house at Greater Union.
Firstly, it has to be said that it's a tragedy that this film's general release has been such a stifled process. The entertainment value of this picture, its expert construction and superb performances cannot be denied.
Carrey turns in what is possibly his best performance in a decade. It's bizarre, the way that his signature antics actually enhance rather than diminish the dramatic aspects of this film, based loosely on real life events. In fact, for me, the movie trumps The Truman Show as Carrey's true coming of age as a performer of depth. Ewan McGregor is equally astonishing as Phillip Morris - you'd swear you were watching the kind of unique romantic chemistry between two actors that arrives very rarely in cinema, and virtually never between two A-listers playing gay lovers; but the love story is only a foundation for what emerges as a kinetic, superbly told comedy-drama about the real life exploits of con man and recidivist prison escapee Steven Jay Russell.
Directors/writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa expertly handle the tensions of comic and dramatic performance and also prove to have a masterly touch with the frenzied action sequences. Bit parts are cast beautifully. You can see the attention to detail and craft in this movie.
It can only be assumed that the gay context of this film has cost it it's commercial potential in the eyes of distributors, because everything else about it spells box office success. Apparently, it will finally have a limited release in the US in October this year, with the potential of expansion.
Without spoiling any of the twists of the film's detailed series of events, the film succeeds at beautifully hijacking audience expectation time and again. Just when you think you've got the film pinned for being predictable, suddenly it flips on you with a wry smile as if to say, "I knew what you were thinking".
I'm not sure how close the producers stuck to the facts, but it scarcely matters. If 5% of this narrative is true, it would be amazing in itself. I would be happy if the film was complete fiction.
It's a wonderful, assured comedy and deserves wide commercial exploitation.
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