Rated: R for language including some sexual references, and brief drug use. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: October 19, 2018 Released by: Fox Searchlight Pictures
The larcenous, if pleasant Lee Israel is the subject of Marielle Heller's new film starring Melissa McCarthy (St. Vincent, Life of the Party) in her most meaningful turn yet.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is adapted from Israel's popular novel, subtitled Memoirs of a Literary Forger, and is really in tune with a distaff part of a once prosperous author.
Her writing included the biographies of Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder, and Dorothy Kilgallen (a journalist and What's My Line? panelist), but was her métier being mined, even with an appearance on the New York Times Best Seller list? A crestfallen, boozing, short-coiffed lesbian with large glasses notices a piece of her work marked down by 75% at a bookstore. She can't afford an Upper West Side flat, and her debt includes a vet which doesn't help her aging, ailing cat.
Scenarists Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said, Please Give) and Jeff Whitty provide much traction for McCarthy and co-star Richard E. Grant (Gosford Park, Logan, Jackie, The Iron Lady, to name a few) as her closest gay confidant Jack Hock who would abet her part in vending counterfeit epistles to book dealers in business with choice agency representatives. A systematic investigation would ensure quite the accomplishment of scores of sales of truncated notes that those like Dorothy Parker, Noel Coward, and Marlene Dietrich would forward to peers and kindred spirits. One that entailed visiting antique emporiums and capturing the voice of their traits, before finally slipping up which would later provide a renaissance of sorts.
Those who loved McCarthy in films like Bridesmaids and Spy will still listen to a picante tongue, but not infused with the lewd and crude jokes, as she shows off a straight-faced wit. Her shading of Lee from the comedic to the melodramatic instances may even surprise her fans from the mainstream-friendly sit-com Mike & Molly. A key inner revival for Lee is her encouragement of a forlorn bookshop entrepreneur Anna (Dolly Wells), while Grant's suave supplementation prods the undeterred famous actress into restrained reliability. A heady Heller makes a petty felon rather interesting in Can You Forgive Me? where the unbeknownst marks were so affluent any deficit from no remunerations wouldn't really matter.
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