Can You Ever Forgive Me? review - Melissa McCarthy is fantastic in darkly funny Lee Israel biopic
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Verdict: A touching biopic that deftly mixes melancholy and wit, Can You Ever Forgive Me? boasts a terrific performance from Melissa McCarthy as the late Lee Israel. Lee Israel, as depicted in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, was a difficult woman to like. We first see her drinking at work, rudely snapping at co-workers and getting herself fired in the process. She's broke, and her alcoholism and anti-social behaviour make it difficult to hold a job or make friends. In her despair, she turns to forgery, discovering that there's a lucrative market for personal letters from deceased authors and playwrights - and that she has a talent for imitating their voices and personalities. This very easily could have been a deeply unlikeable character, but the writing, directing and Melissa McCarthy's performance all strike a fine balance that ultimately paint Lee Israel as a sympathetic figure. The fake letters and correspondence aren't just a way to make ends meet, although they certainly do just that - Lee takes real pride in her work, which ironically is the kind of work that she isn't allowed to take pride in publicly. Her passion for writing is the key to making you root for her. Her only real friend throughout this ordeal (not counting her cat) is Jack Hock (Richard E.Grant), an openly gay free spirit who shares Lee's love of drink and disdain for people. The two make a wonderful pair and a lot of the movie's laughs come from the way they bounce off each other.
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