“Can you keep a secret?”
“Who would I tell? All my friends are dead.”
Based on the autobiographical story by author Lee Israel, Can You Ever Forgive Me? tells the story of Lee during one of her most trying times. But when Lee is pushed to her limits, she schemes up a plan to write letters from significant figures, forging their signatures, and selling them to whomever will buy them. But when Lee’s life seems to be going at a steadier pace, the authorities begin to question the authenticity of such letters, resulting in a crushing blow for Lee.
Sometimes when comedic actors try to transition to comedic films, it’s not always the best move. Melissa McCarthy, who plays our main character, Lee, portrays her in such a way, that it is quite refreshing to see McCarthy in such a dramatic role. Lee is a complex character, who has to fight her inner demons, including constantly pushing away those who care about her. But even with her harsh personality, Lee is able to befriend Jack Hock, played by British actor, Richard E. Grant. The chemistry between these two is so humorous to see on screen. Here are two platonic friends, that throughout the film, care for each other in their own individualistic ways. But the performances by these two actors make the film what it is. McCarthy, most importantly, gives the best performance of her career. She plays to Lee’s hard and independent qualities, while also realistically portraying the more vulnerable sides of this struggling author. Without both McCarthy and Grant in their respective roles, Can You Ever Forgive Me? could have easily been extremely basic.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? takes this true story and tells it in such a pure and interesting way. With bits of humor laid throughout, it breaks up those tough scenes to watch. Though this true story is tragic like most true stories, I enjoyed every minute of watching it. Director Marielle Heller moves the camera in such intriguing ways in order to show the harsh reality that is befalling these characters. Not only does Heller have a skill for directing, but she has a keen eye for telling a true story. I’m excited for Heller to direct the new Mr. Rogers biopic, for which I’m sure she’ll lend her talents there as well.
This movie may be a tough one in terms of the events surrounding our main character, but the film as a whole is gratifying. Can You Ever Forgive Me?, though with its minor flaws, takes McCarthy and turns her into an accomplished dramatic actress. I don’t know if I could have honestly seen McCarthy in a serious role. But with the Oscar wins of Allison Janney and Octavia Spencer, it looks as though more comedic actresses are expanding, and succeeding, in the drama categories. And more power to them! In the end, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is an interesting story that is brought so lovely to the big screen.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Directed by: Marielle Heller
Starring: Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant