Can You Ever Forgive Me?
In CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?, Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel, the best-selling celebrity biographer (and cat lover) who made her living in the 1970's and 80's profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estée Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee found herself unable to get published because she had fallen out of step with the marketplace, she turned her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack (Richard E. Grant).
Directed by Marielle Helle and written by Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said, Please Give) and Jeff Whitty.
The New Yorker/Richard Brody
It is a fiercely composed, historically informed, and richly textured film, as insightful regarding the particularities of the protagonist as it is on the artistic life — and on the life of its times.
One of the things I loved about Can You Ever Forgive Me?—aside from the radiantly perfect casting of McCarthy and Grant, a Withnail and I–esque pair of drinking buddies, except this time they’re both asocial, hilarious Withnails—was Heller’s quiet confidence in establishing the milieu where all this typing and lying took place.
Chicago Sun-Times/Richard Roeper
At times Can You Ever Forgive Me? is actually quite funny and of course McCarthy is great in those scenes — but she’s equally effective in the darkest, most dramatic moments. It’s one of the finest performances of the year.
Chicago Tribune/Katie Walsh
McCarthy is exceptional as the irascible Lee, and her skill in a dramatic role should be no surprise. Her performance is detailed, nuanced and subtly affecting, while Grant brings the relief as the tragicomic Jack, who showboats in circles around McCarthy, who's in the straight man role for a change.
New York Observer/Rex Reed
The miracle is Melissa McCarthy, whose tortured portrait of disgraced celebrity author and convicted forger Lee Israel is the consummate performance of her career and the crowning achievement of her life. I have seen Can You Ever Forgive Me? twice, rubbing my eyes with astonishment and discovering something new and wonderful each time. This is my favorite film of 2018.
New York Times/A. O. Scott
Partly because the movie is so splendidly and completely absorbed in its characters and their milieu, it communicates much more than a quirky appreciation for old books and odd readers.
Los Angeles Times/Kenneth Turan
Can You Ever Forgive Me? demands not our love for this supremely difficult person but rather our respect for her defiance of an unsympathetic world. With such an impeccable presentation of such an intransigent personality, it is hard to deny her that.