Alternatively thrilling and heart breaking, Can You Ever Forgive Me is based on the life of Lee Israel, who made her living writing profiles of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, cosmetics executive Estée Lauder, et al. The film marks Melissa McCarthy’s triumphant foray into the world of drama. Eventually, Israel went broke when she fell out of step with the publishing industry’s infatuation with warts-and-all biographies. Abetted by her friend Jack (Richard E. Grant), an ex-con, Israel begins selling forged letters allegedly penned by deceased writers and actors. When one “by” Noel Coward finally raises suspicion, her market dries up, and she begins stealing real letters from library archives to sell.
“Lee Israel may be the single most interesting movie character you will encounter this year…” — A.O. Scott, New York Times
“[McCarthy] brings her dowdiest, most disagreeable A-game to a caustically funny, improbably affecting enterprise.” — Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
“As Israel, Melissa McCarthy is caustic, profane, curmudgeonly, affecting and very funny, as is Richard E. Grant as a gay alcoholic who becomes her accomplice.” — Bob Mondello, NPR
Nicole Holofcener (screenplay by), Jeff Whitty (screenplay by)
Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, Ben Falcone
Fox Searchlight Pictures