Can You Ever Forgive Me? - 2018
Director(s): Marielle Heller
Writer(s): Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
Cinematography by: Brandon Trost
Editor(s): Anne McCabe
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells and Ben Falcone
I watched this movie solely on the fact that I am a big fan of Melissa McCarthy. She has proven herself to be one of the best comedic actors working today, even though at times she is typecast, she finds a way to stand-out. In Can You Ever Forgive Me? we see her venture to the dramatic side of the acting world, something she hasn't done in years and once again is a stand-out, even if the overall movie is a bit underwhelming. Let's talk about it
The story is based around real-life forger Lee Israel (McCarthy). Israel is a known autobiographer currently going through a rough patch. Facing eviction from her home and needing medication for her sick cat, she is forced to sell some letters another famous writer wrote to her, finding out just how much that type of memorabilia is worth. Israel then embarks on a scheme in where she will forge the signature and style of writing of other famed writers to keep the lights on, only to find out that the government is paying close attention. I liked parts of this scrip, like the relationship between Isreal and Jack Hock (Grant), their kinship grew naturally out of their loneliness and they found in each other a much-needed drinking buddy. Their banter was engaging and at times hilarious.
As for the rest of the movie, it lacked both in structure and tension. At no time I felt the weight of the pressure mounting on Isreal, as the investigation surrounding her actions just came and went in the blink of an eye. There is a character that probably existed in real life, but he just felt out of place and as if the writers added him so that someone was forcing her to up her forging, a villain almost. But he is never expanded on, and there is no resolution to that arch as well.
This is a good, somewhat forgettable, story that is elevated by two great performances that make worthwhile your time spent watching. Melissa McCarthy is raw and unapologetic as to who her character is and how she sees herself in the world. She manages to be funny and quippy without harking back to the same set of tools that have made her famous, staying completely in character throughout the entire runtime. It also helps that she has a great dancing partner in the slick, sassy and ever charismatic Richard E. Grant. He took what could've easily been, the prototypical "gay best friend" and made him be an entirely flawed human being, that is just trying to make a connection with another human. Their chemistry is what makes this movie enjoyable and overshadow the fact that the story is not all that cinematic.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a good, quiet, funny story about how life can quickly catch up to even a person that thinks she has been forgotten by society. Sadly, the story was not as engaging as the characters and the actors for me to fully enjoy my time at the theaters. McCarthy and Grant will surely make a good case for nominations come award season. McCarthy is why I love movies.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is currently playing in theaters. Wait for it on Netflix.
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