directed by John Requa and Glen Ficarra
I was right in the middle of my review for Takashi Miike’s stellar film, Sukiyaki Western Django (inspired by Paul’s killer Django review and the newly released title of QT’s next classic) when I decided to take a break and rave about this madcap tale of con artists, prison breaks, and a boundless romance between two souls entwined by the cosmos. I knew this film was going to be good (my gut seemed sure of this), but if I had known how good, I would have prepared myself more fully. Jim Carrey has long since worn out his welcome in my book, garnering (at the best of times) not much more than a reluctant admission of his prowess as a professional. In fact, the only film of recent years featuring Carrey that I actually enjoyed was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and that was due more to the writing (Charlie Kaufman), the directing (Michael Gondry), and the acting of Kate Winslett, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Wilkinson than anything else. But I had a good feeling about this film about a police officer named Steven Russell (Carrey), who, after coming out of the closet, divorces his wife, leaves his job and becomes a con man in Florida, and my faith in Ewan McGregor (I’m glad you’re back, Mr. McG) had finally been reestablished after the fun whodunit, The Ghost Writer. Requa and Ficarra are geniuses when they have the latitude to let their almost Coenesque point of view roam (Bad Santa, anyone?), and in Phillip Morris, the duo hit pay dirt. Did I mention that this is based on a true story, and that the real life Russell really did all the things alleged in the film? Well, it is, and he did. Carrey’s and McGregor’s performances are both Oscar worthy, without question, and how this modern classic failed to wow those stuffy old bastards is anyone’s guess. I would divulge more of the plot, but it would ruin all the fun, and who couldn’t use more fun? The film is at once heartfelt and cheeky, flamboyant and sincere, a cocktail that I would gladly enjoy any day of the week. Watch it, then thank me later.
PS “Coenesque” does not imply that Requa and Ficarra steal anything from the genius brothers, but rather that their style has a strong signature, almost idiosyncratically so, and when the pair put on writer and director hats, their collective voice is a marvel to behold.