Based on the confessional memoir by Lee Israel and featuring two award-nominated performances, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a melancholic look at the life of a down and out writer and the lengths she’ll go to to earn a living.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? | MA15+ | Drama
I wasn’t able to grasp the intention of the film. The event of the fraud itself didn’t seem brazen enough to base an entire feature film on. I assumed the lack of excitement would be balanced with a deep dive into the emotional back story of the main Lee Israel, but this didn’t happen. A nicely neutral film, with Melissa McCarthy doing an excellent job of playing the unlikable lead character. I really enjoyed the character of Jack. He was such a welcome comparison to Lee Israel’s written persona.
A simple, yet engaging story, held afloat by two outstanding performances. I enjoyed this film, despite the fact that there wasn’t much to it; The story simply provided an interesting backdrop to a somewhat shallow exploration of themes surrounding loneliness, isolation and ultimately friendship. It’s easy to watch, easy to digest and doesn’t leave too much to the imagination – Perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Not bad – well made and easy to watch. I was surprised that it kept my interest despite not being all that involved with the story or characters. It was all just a little too surface-level for my liking. I would have appreciated a bit more depth into either Lee Israel’s character and psychology, or into the forging process itself. However, if the dark comedy tone of the film works for you, you will be able to look beyond these shortcomings and enjoy it a lot. Personally I felt that there wasn’t much in the film that I didn’t already get from the trailer.
McCarthy’s character is completely unlikeable – an intentional point of the movie – but I found it hard to move past. Overall entertaining – I would have enjoyed learning more of the Lee Israel background story. The injection of the Richard E. Grant dandy character and their friendship, provides a lightness to the narrative arc of Lee’s forgeries and breaks up her acerbic personality throughout.
‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ is a delightfully muted crime-comedy that willfully subverts the tired conventions of the Hollywood biopic. Based on Lee Israel’s autobiography of the same name, this screen adaptation follows the writer’s criminal activities as a literary forger. Israel’s refusal to conform to societal norms is evident throughout the film. Her apartment and life are a total mess. Her cat is sick, and she views those on the outside with contempt. Marielle Heller’s low-key direction is effective in highlighting Israel’s loathsome behavior and her subsequent spiral into crisis. It’s clear that Heller has made a conscious decision to not inflate Israel’s exploits as a foul-mouthed-single-cat-lady. Anchored by a character-driven screenplay, Heller manages to strike the perfect balance between seriousness and humour. One of the most endearing aspects of the film is its ability to playfully capture the heights of unconstrained mischief – demonstrated through the friendship between Israel (played brilliantly by Melissa McCarthy) and her partner in crime, Jack Hock (portrayed by the inimitable Richard E. Grant). As viewers, we may not agree with their actions, but there is something infectious about the pair’s antics, especially when they are shown rummaging through the streets of Manhattan. ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ does not carry a whole lot of emotional resonance, nor does it plead with audiences to sympathise with the protagonist’s plight. Instead, it is an honest and humorous examination of the desperate measures that people resort to under dire circumstances.
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And the next film is…
The Favourite | MA15+ | Biography
In the early 18th century, England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead, while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing, and Abigail sees a chance to return to her aristocratic roots.