There’s a reason why “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” is gaining such momentum during awards season and it begins with Melissa McCarthy. To put it bluntly her per performance is such a departure from her norm that it’s quite frankly startling. While her antics have certainly brought amusement to some of the years, it’s her vulnerability as Lee Israel that’s bound to open many eyes. Marielle Heller’s latest project dares to ask the audience what gives their life meaning. Up until this point, Israel might have answered either her writing and or cats. However, it takes an unpredictable turn towards crime to give her life purpose. Is she a horrible person?
No, Heller’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” doesn’t make that case, but it certainly doesn’t shy away from showing how lost Israel was. Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty’s narrative certainly is well constructed and provides a litany of examples demonstrating how McCarthy is justifying her actions. The law views it as committing fraud. Israel views them as “one of a kind literary treasures.” That moral tightrope which Israel attempts to cross is precisely what makes the film so gripping.
Richard E. Grant plays Jack Hock who can only be described as a shady Jiminy Cricket type. Instead of encouraging Israel to stop while she’s ahead, he entices her to keep at it. One only can speculate as to how much fun Grant might have had playing this role. Hock adds some levity to the tale and an element of darkness too. The chemistry between the two leads is some of the best audiences will see in 2018.
Nate Heller’s score struck the correct balance between whimsy and sadness. We can’t lose sight of just how lost these characters indeed are. The part of the film which stuck out more than anything is at the end when we see what type of people Lee and Jack are (It is heartbreaking, to say the least). Please make room in your busy viewing schedule for easily of this year’s best releases.