FILM: Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018, Marielle Heller)

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Biopic Can You Ever Forgive Me? is distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, following its premiere at the 2018 Telluride Film Festival. Struggling author Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) is broke and on the verge of eviction when she learns that personal letters by deceased writers and actors are valuable collector’s items. She begins to forge such letters and finds a knack for it, which proves highly profitable. Of course this is all highly illegal and Lee’s conscience is greatly troubled by the fact that she is doing this. How long will it be before she is either her conscience gets the better of her or she is caught?


  • Marielle Heller’s direction is very mature and well thought-through in its nuanced and precise execution, as well as very sensitive as she approaches a true story about an ultimately troubled person.
  • A deeply moving and emotionally raw screenplay which explores mankind’s desire for wealth and success and challenges you as to how far you would be willing to go to achieve it.
  • Melissa McCarthy showcases her tremendous talent as a dramatic actress, giving a raw, nuanced performance that conveys a complex individual with a sense of deep-rooted, underlying emotional baggage.
  • An underlying dark wit that is realised wonderfully by Richard E. Grant, whose scene-stealing performance as Jack Hock hits just the right notes of theatricality and makes one think fondly of his turn in Withnail and I.


  • The film could have benefited from being 5-10 minutes longer in order to flesh out some of the subplots a little more, while the loose ends do get tied up quite quickly at the end.
  • The score by Nate Heller does at times feel a bit intrusive on the rest of the film, which is more noticeable as (while not a bad score) there is nothing particularly stand-out or impressive about it.



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