Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018): Movie Review

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Dare I say it: Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me is better than Glenn Close in The Wife or Lady Gaga in A Star is Born.  As literary felon Lee Israel who sold fraudulent letters by prominent writers, McCarthy’s desperate, guilt ridden journey into FBI investigation land was a marvel to witness. So much disappointment as an aging author devoid of hope, McCarthy digs into the cruel, lonely woman’s cynicism and regret as she experiences a brief period of elicit joy.  McCarthy pulls some of the greatest line readings of the year with her impeccable comic timing, but the bitter distance she keeps between her and the world is fascinating as it unfolds.  Each time she approaches a bookseller, she drifts between awkward juvenile offender to mob boss in a cardigan. 

Paired with her co-star Richard E. Grant, a vivacious aging queen ignoring homelessness in favor of opulence, the duo tolerate each other as they fake their way through rent payments and vet bills.  Grant’s impulsive lifestyle creates a walking charm machine and liability as unexpectable as Israel is banal yet risky.  Director Marielle Heller’s brisk path for Israel leaves no dawdling through scenes. Nicole Holofcener’s witty, concise screenplay should nab her her first Oscar nomination, and her co-writer Jeff Whitty last acting credit was as “Jacuzzi Hunter” in Shortbus so that’s just intriguing. The whole movie is fun and kind of heartbreaking and easily one of my favorites of the year.  Props to Anna Deavere Smith, Jane Curtin, and Marc Evan Jackson for being exceptional character actors filling in impactful cameos. This is a must see!

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