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[personal profile] scriptamanet
This is the best movie about gay conmen since Ocean's Eleven.

I think I heard about this movie in 2008, when North American distribution rights were still being discussed. Last I'd heard of it, it wasn't being released in the United States at all, which I thought was a little sad. While it was eventually released here, I now find it even sadder that it was in contention (supposedly because of the explicit gay sex), because I think this is exactly the kind of movie Americans in general should be seeing. It's got the rogue-ish anti-hero making his own way who's traditionally popular in American film, except he's gay. And the movie simultaneously says "So what?" and tells you in no uncertain terms that it's not related.

That's actually my favorite thing about the narration. While it walks the line, the movie never quite justifies any of Steven's choices or opinions. It's simply presenting us with Steven, exactly as he is, take him or leave him, which is pretty much the same dilemma posed to Phillip. It brings us much closer to the character, even when he isn't being honest with the audience.

While they don't always tie together, or necessarily work within the story, I Love You Phillip Morris is also excellent at short, weird scenes that stick. For example, Ewan McGregor standing at a kitchen counter, eating Dove chocolates and sticking the wrapper messages he likes to the fridge may be the highlight of my month. Not only is it precious, but it encapsulates the character really beautifully. While I don't understand exactly what Phillip's problem is with 'A smile is like a flower on your face', the fact that he throws out the wrapper and then spits out the chocolate tells me so much about him. Also, the faces he makes are really, incredibly adorable, and the movie would be worth it for just that scene even if the rest of it were terrible.

The other thing it does excellently is the relationship between Steven and Phillip, which is real and run-of-the-mill as a relationship with a conman can get. It's love, for all its eccentricities and obstacles, and a remarkably convincing example of it at that. Whatever else the movie makes light of, it never makes light of the way the two feel about each other, just the circumstances around it, and the occasionally bizarre ways Steven expresses it.

Tl;Dr: if you haven't seen this already, you should be disappointed in yourself. Correct it.

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January 2012

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