Can You Ever Forgive Me?
CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (15)
D: Marielle Heller
Fox Searchlight/Archer Grey (Anne Carey, Amy Nauiokis & David Yarnell)
USA 🇺🇸 2018
W: Nicole Holofcener & Jeff Whitty [based on the book by Lee Israel]
DP: Brandon Trost
Ed: Anne McCabe
Mus: Nate Heller
Melissa McCarthy (Lee Israel), Richard E. Grant (Jack Hock), Dolly Wells (Anna), Jane Curtin (Marjorie), Ben Falcone (Arthur Schmidt), Stephen Spinella (Paul)
I have to begin this review by admitting that I don't particularly like Melissa McCarthy as an actress and I haven't enjoyed many of the films which she has starred in. However, her performance against type in Can You Ever Forgive Me is very easily her best work and she was incredibly deserving of the Best Actress Oscar nomination that she received (it's also noteworthy that she received a Worst Actress nomination the same year for The Happytime Murders).
In this biographical picture, she plays frumpy, alcoholic author Lee Israel. Struggling to get her work published, she turns to forgery and deception by fabricating letters by deceased authors, playwrights and film stars and selling them on to traders with the help of her flagrantly camp friend, Jack Hock (exuberantly played by Richard E. Grant).
Lee Israel's character is not a pleasant one, but it really is due to McCarthy's performance that some sympathy is evoked for the crude, unfiltered and hard-talking writer.
Perhaps the fine performances can be attributed to a great screenplay, full of acerbic dialogue and believable characters.
The title is taken from a line written in one of the forged letters, where Israel posed as American poet, Dorothy Parker.