By Ché Zuro
Richard E. Grant and Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Photo by Photo by Mary Cybulski - © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved
Can You Ever Forgive Me?, based on the 2008 memoir of author Lee Israel, has a slow start. A very slow start. Forcing myself to stay with it, becoming distracted here and there, until finally, halfway through, the story went from uninteresting to worth watching.
With Melissa McCarthy in the role of Lee, we find an angry, unlikeable person who suddenly becomes unemployed, which leads to financial problems, and only adds to the current problems of writer's block and severe drinking. We follow Lee to bars as well as parties where she does not fit in anymore. Other writer's citing "writer's block" as just another word for a writer being lazy, makes her dependence on alcohol even worse.
When well overdue with rent payments and unable to purchase necessities, she sells a letter that was written to her from Katherine Hepburn to a dealer at a book store, she is able to survive just a tad longer. This sale leads to her thinking perhaps she could "find" more letters to sell from famous authors and celebrities, and she sets on her new found mission. This is when she begins to forge signatures of famous people along with writing letters on old typewriters to better deceive and receive a higher amount of money for these "old" documents.
When the authenticity of some letters becomes questionable and she finds herself blacklisted by her usual buyers, she enlists her best pal Jack (Richard E. Grant) to take these "old" letters to try and sell. This idea works for a short while until the FBI, looking for Lee, discovers that Jack is working on her behalf, and he decides to cooperate with them. And the plot thickens!
Melissa McCarthy is very good in this role. She seems to have soaked up the character of Lee Israel and shows her vulnerable side. The softening of the character as she progresses in this film, is quite wonderful. Richard E. Grant makes a fantastic Jack, a flamboyant free spirited fellow, who is her partner in crime until he suddenly is not anymore.
The feel of the film is gritty, raw, real. The acting is superb.and the casting is very good. The lighting and cinematography really sets the stage for the actors in the literary world, with it's ups and downs.
Stick with the first half of the film, although boring. Because as a whole, this film is pretty darn good.