Yes, I love you Phillip

Not being much of a movie person, I nevertheless had the opportunity to watch I Love You Phillip Morris last Sunday, 11 July 2010. When I first read the review on Mail & Guardian newspaper I thought someone was crazy.

But of course that was until I got so bored (not that I had nothing to do after reading my Sunday Times newspaper with reports of former State president Thabo Mbeki being banned by the public broadcaster South African Broadcasting Corporation, a report which has since been denied by the broadcaster spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago).

So I figured I could use a movie and off I went to the Sterkinekor Cinema in the Rustenburg Waterfall Mall. Well, as we are told here, the movie is about a man who was made to live a lie: a lie that he was the biological child of a normal Mon and Dad and only to find out later, just before reaching his 16th birthday, that he was adopted.

As Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian newspaper puts it: “[the now-discovered gay’s] own lifelong identity crisis… may stem from the traumatic discovery of having been adopted…”.

As if that was not enough, although he admitted to having suspected who he really was, he had to tell his wife of two children that he is not the man she fell in love with, that he is in fact gay and in love with someone for whom he fell for unknowingly.

Without making a fuss about it – or maybe she did but we didn’t get to see that – both the poor wife and his now-discovered gay husband of hers mutually agreed to separate, leaving her to raise the kinds alone while he, on the other hand, roams the whole world living the gay life he later came to know as quite ‘expensive’, something he said he was not told. And one wonders what he would have been had he been told that living a gay life’s expensive.

In order to live up the ‘expensive’ life many gay people are used to, the now-discovered gay had to do things he would not have done under ‘normal’ circumstances. Please, don’t ask me what normal is because as you can clearly hear and understand where this is going, there probably isn’t such a thing as ‘normal’, is there? This is because, says Bradshaw, it is not the “gayness” that should concern us but rather the “pretending to be straight [when you actually are not], and then pretending that [your] embrace of a gay identity is the solution to all [your and our] personal problems”. Now, moving on…

The now-discovered gay ex-husband, during his marriage, became a policeman so he could track down his biological mother who had given him up for adoption, the street-way of course, not the legal way. But it worked, anyway. When he found his mother, the mother wanted nothing to do with him let alone hear what he had to say. He then became miserable.

Of course any normal living person would have become miserable too, having to find out that your own mother gave you up for adoption and when you successfully tracked her down, she wanted nothing to do with you.

During his married life on his way from visiting a male partner, he was involved in a car accident that resulted in his being hospitalised. At this point, any man’s wife would have asked the hubby: “where the hell where you coming from at that time of the night and doing what exactly”? Unfortunately the now-discovered gay ex-husband had to lie to his then wife saying he was meeting clients when he was in fact ‘visiting’ with some of his ‘after nine’ male partners.

To cut the long romance, funny and somewhat real story short – the now-discovered gay man hurt people he loved most and dearly such as his ex-wife and the now new love of his life, Steve, who he met in prison while serving a sentence for some of the small crimes he had committed when he tried to live the ‘expensive’ life of a gay man.

It first started with his now ex-wife having to hear that the man she fell in love with and loved was now a gay (which meant separation) and then the gay/male partner he had met and fell in love with while living the expensive life. He had it hard having to keep them as he always got himself into trouble with the law, no matter what. The poor now-discovered gay had a funny, sad and strange way of showing love for those he loved and cared for. At times, he even got his partners into trouble with the law enforcement agencies too. All this because of love?

The lesson? We cannot hide from who we truly are from ourselves despite our formation and who we are being different to and from the society that helped bring us up and led us to where we are today and or where we want to be in the future.

This is an edited review of the movie I Love You Phillip I first published here and later here.

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