Film – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Film – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

The film is yet another (based on a) true story, this time of New York biographer Lee Israel whose work dried up. The film captures her not-give-a-toss attitude and absolutely not caring about being liked which, which, as her agent explains, does not get her published.

Behind with her rent, with no money for bills and a beloved sickly cat to tend to, Israel sells an autographed letter and then had the idea of forging another letter to sell and it worked and so began her life of crime. She specialised in forging letters of well known, deceased actors and writers. Which of course begs the question, why didn’t she just write in that style or under a pen name or sell columns for newspapers to publish? Today, she would be published for sure with so many writing in the style of Jane Austin or even the young James Bond series.

Just as she starts her life of crime, Israel meets fellow outcast Jack Hock and eventually they join forces. However, there seems to be little mention of him anywhere online although I’m delighted his character is a large part of her film (Richard E Grant) if not, it is said, the book.

A lot of friends do seem to be quoted online although the film denotes a life with absolutely no friends, other than her agent (of sorts). Even then, Israel pretends to be Nora Ephron to get through to her great hilarity (hers and mine). There’s also the steeling of toilet rolls and something of a bit more value from her house although it’s not clear if this is just because of need or due to mischief.

New York being a place I visited umpteen times between 1992 and 2008, it’s especially nice for me to see this film shot there and recognising so many of the places. Oddly enough I first visited the city when the forgeries started and last went when the memoir upon which the film is based came out. I heard nothing about this whole chapter in the city’s literary history.

I am a fan of Melissa McCarthy but only because I love the Mike & Molly series – although I’m still waiting to catch the last season. Her more typical screwball comedies have not appealed to me and both Spy and The Heat left me unsatisfied on the big screen although I enjoyed her co-starring role in St Vincent.  

This, I loved.

One thing for sure, she’s never short of work so she must be good to work with.







Photo by Mary Cybulski. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

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