JIM Carrey delivers his best dramatic performance since Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind in this improbable and utterly incredible true story.

Based on a novel by investigative reporter Steve McVicker, I Love You Phillip Morris charts the romance of two prison inmates and their subsequent journey of self-discovery on both sides of the bars.

Writer-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Bad Santa) strike a pleasing balance between laughter and soul-searching in this oddball comedy.

Crucially, Carrey generates smouldering screen chemistry with co-star Ewan McGregor, convincing us that undying love and a daredevil spirit can overcome anything.

Truth is far, far stranger than Ficarra and Requa’s entertaining fiction, which takes dramatic licence with dialogue and abbreviates the exploits of their white-collar criminal during the 1980s and 1990s, who escaped incarceration four times and has paid a terrible price for humiliating the US prison service.

The real Stephen Russell was handed a 144-year sentence and must spend 23 hours every day confined to his cell without visitors. That’s no laughing matter.

When we first meet Stephen (Jim Carrey), he is a happily married police officer with a beautiful wife, Debbie (Leslie Mann), and young daughter.

However, the family man has a secret: he is gay.

When he can no longer keep the secret, Stephen comes out to his wife and moves to Florida with boyfriend Jimmy (Rodrigo Santoro).

The cost of living fabulously is perilously high, and Stephen breaks the law to finance his lavish tastes.

The authorities eventually catch up with the swindler and sentence him to time in prison, where he meets softly spoken Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor).

The attraction is instant, and Stephen schemes to become his lover’s cellmate.

When he finally gains parole, Stephen poses as a lawyer to get Phillip out of prison early, but once they are united on the outside the former con man struggles to mend his ways.

Phillip lands a high-profile position as chief financial officer at a large corporation, where the temptation to embezzle is irresistible.

When the police invariably come knocking for their man, Phillip is distraught.

“I don’t care about the money,” he pleads. “All I want is you. I just want us to be together.”

I Love You Phillip Morris is sweet, sexy and at times hilarious, posing the obvious dilemma: Can a gay conman go straight?