Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

6th February 2019 Off By Ewan Gleadow

Biopics have dominated the Awards season thus far, and it’s easy to see why, considering the quality and consistency of so many of these movies. Can You Ever Forgive Me? starring Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel, is yet another strong entry into this modern trend. 

Directed by rising star Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), the McCarthy led biopic follows Israel, a struggling writer who turns to forging letters by famous people and pawning them off to collectors. On the whole, Heller’s direction is brilliant. It has its own voice, but at the same time doesn’t detract from any important aspects of the story. Subtle touches here and there allow for the story to progress without any obstacles in the way.  

McCarthy’s casting comes as somewhat of a surprise to us, especially given her prominence in awful comedy movies of the past decade. A first time Oscar nomination for the role does provide some intrigue however, and it’s safe to say McCarthy is in with a very good chance of bringing the award home. Her performance is superb, blending the financial struggles of an exceptional artist with the guilt of illegal activities. Lee Israel is an unknown figure to many, and it’s great to see that she’s coming into prominence through an extremely unique and interesting story.  

This story is competently brought to us with some excellently simplistic storytelling techniques. There’s no real focus on fancy editing or stylish cinematography, just a real focus on the plot, letting the cast do their own thing. Everyone is very well cast, but there aren’t any other heavy hitting performances aside from McCarthy. The rest are there simply to bolster McCarthy, and nobody does this better than Dolly Wells, who plays a neat little supporting role as Anna, a minor love interest. 

It’s genuinely exciting to see Richard E. Grant in the awards running for the first time in his career. His supporting performance as Jack Hock is superb, and again like McCarthy provides us with some of his best work to date. His sudden resurgence in modern cinema with films like Logan and Star Wars: Episode IX is enough to keep a new generation of movie fans interested in is performances. Rightly so, since his last major stint was in Horrid Henry: The Movie.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is one of this year’s most exciting movies. A tremendous story with some heavy hitting performances by actors you may have either written off as poor quality or simply hadn’t seen in a while. It’s a revitalisation in the careers of McCarthy and Grant, who both give their best performances in years. The film is truly award-worthy.

Keep an eye on this one, fans of biopics will be right at home with this portrait of Lee Israel.