Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells
Director: Marielle Heller
Running Time: 106 mins
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is an American film about the story of Lee Israel, a struggling writer who turned her talents to forging valuable letters by prominent figures.
Telling a riveting and entertaining true story, coupled with two great performances from Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, as well as an atmospheric and notably pleasant directing style from Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a likable and engrossing watch, and although it’s not a film that ever really sets the world alight, it grabbed me well from the start and kept me hooked right to the finish.
Of course, having a true story as the plot is almost always of benefit to any film, and so proves the case here, as Can You Ever Forgive Me takes a very niche and almost unheard-of topic in the world of collectable personal letters of prominent authors, and gives it riveting stakes that tie in well to the real world as we know it.
In that, this film proves an engrossing watch from start to finish, and although it’s not quite the chaotic tale of fraud and deceit that many Hollywood classics have told, it’s interesting to watch the same style of story unfold on a smaller scale, yet with still just as many repercussions, as we follow the struggling and increasingly desperate Lee Israel as she attempts to turn her life around by any means possible.
What’s more is that the film does a solid job at getting you onside with Israel as she finds herself embroiled deeper and deeper in her own forgery plans, giving due attention to her own emotional struggles, as well as creating a likability and humanity in her character that could have been so easily overlooked in any other situation, as while she isn’t the most social or extroverted individual, you find yourself naturally connected to her.
A lot of that has to do with the excellent performance from Melissa McCarthy, whose energy and likability prove key to your perceptions of Israel as she pushes on with her fradulent plans, bringing good humour to the character while still effectively portraying her introverted and visibly frustrated nature.
Alongside McCarthy is Richard E. Grant, who plays Israel’s flamboyant but less-than-brainy friend. Working brilliantly on screen with McCarthy, Grant is a whole lot of fun to watch, again adding to the film’s understated but still solidly funny humour, all the while bringing all the energy to the table with a character that’s as much of an opposite to Israel as can be on the outside.
With those two performances, Can You Ever Forgive Me proves a thoroughly entertaining watch, while director Marielle Heller adds to that with an atmospheric and rather relaxing vibe. With something of the Woody Allen about it, the film floats along like a good book, and while it never really hits home in the way that it often wants to, there is a likability and easy-going nature to this film that makes it such an enjoyable watch.
Overall, I enjoyed Can You Ever Forgive Me?. While it’s not a film that ever really sets the world alight, it’s still an engrossing and entertaining true story that takes a classic Hollywood trope and puts it onto a smaller scale, while lead performances from Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant add to the fun factor of it all, as well as very pleasant direction from Marielle Heller, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.