can you ever forgive me?
DIRECTOR: Marielle Heller (the diary of a teenage girl)
STARRING: melissa mccarthy, richard e. grant, christian navarro, and dolly wells
REVIEWER: lyall carter
Celebrity biographer Lee Israel makes her living profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee is no longer able to get published because she has fallen out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack.
When you think Melissa McCarthy you don’t necessarily think highbrow dramatic actor but more of a crowd pleasing comedian. But Can You Ever Forgive Me? is McCarthy’s way of taking audience expectations and throwing them completely on their head.
Based on a true story Can You Ever Forgive Me? follows the life of Lee Israel a writer who crafts the tales of the rich and famous for the masses. But she hasn’t had a hit book in an age and with rent needed to be paid and a sick cat that needs to be taken to the vet, Israel needs cash fast. Recognising the lucrative industry of letters of famous deceased writers and actors, Israel sets about forging them to make ends meet.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is not really about the criminal activities of an unemployed writer. Its about Lee Israel and the way that she loathes herself, is afraid most of the time, drinks way too much, and is ultimately lonely. The letter forging is merely the backdrop as we intimately explore the inner life of a person's struggle with creative insecurity, alcoholism, and loneliness.
The only really friend she has is Jack, a very flamboyant gay man (deliciously played by Richard E. Grant) and they drink, scheme, and pull pranks together. The banter between the two is sharp, witty, and downright hilarious and the audience I saw it with were frequently in hysterics.
Melissa McCarthy is just terrific as Israel. You feel as if McCarthy or our idea of the slapstick goofy comedian has disappeared and you have encountered Lee Israel in the flesh. The abject sense of loneliness is etched all over her face and such is the performance that even though she is a bit of a miscreant ripping people off left right and centre you really care for her. And that is all down to McCarthy's wonderfully nuanced performance.
An intimate exploration of the inner life of writer Lee Israel anchored by a career defining performance from Melissa McCarthy.