Can You Ever Forgive Me?
"Sharp and Daring"
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is one of those daring comedies that attracts attention like picnics attracts ants. It’s sharp, fresh and alluring. Melissa McCarthy brilliantly goes off like dynamite in her role as Lee Israel, a biographer in the early 90’s whose hit rock bottom. Her girlfriend has left her, and she has fallen out of time with current tastes and can no longer get published. In order to get by, she turns to fraud by embellishing literary letters by those such as Fanny Brice and Noel Coward. She is soon abetted in her deception by her new friend, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) an English energetic gay man who is able to tolerate her unapologetic personality. The chemistry between both of them is hilarious as they get into all kinds of episodes together and yet, it’s much more than that. It’s that Lee is extremely lonely. She’d never admit it because she’s too proud, but Jack’s arrival brings out the best in her and she starts living life in a way she hadn't before. She’s able to befriend Anna, (Dolly Wells) a bookstore owner Lee cons through the confidence Jack has sparked in her. He’s very mischievous like a small child but also very lovable. He’s the kind of guy you’d want to see on a bad day.
McCarthy’s performance is very refreshing to see. In most of her other films, her characters usually don’t consider the reality of the situations they are in. The characters she usually plays are very impulsive and unapologetically do what they want and when they want. Lee does not do this, and McCarthy makes way for Lee to always mentally analyze the possible damage she could cause regardless of always choosing to take the risk. Richard E. Grant is just a breath of energy and a ball of fun whose talent is beautiful because you can really tell that he is having fun and not acting to get a job done right. He wants to be there with McCarthy, and he gives her all his attention the way a true friend would. Dolly Wells’ performance is adorable as Anna lives a turtle in a shell kind of existence. The way she portrays her slow but sincere transition to confidence that McCarthy enlightens in her does not go unnoticed. The cinematography does not go unnoticed either. The film takes its time to show off its cold nighttime Manhattan winters. It is visually enticing and gives the film a cozy snug to it. As witty as the material is, the film really resonated with me because of the lead actors’ performances.
Comedies need passionate people to carry out the electricity and McCarthy and Grant effortlessly light up all of Manhattan with their ease, comfort and contentment of who they are as individuals. Personally, I also enjoyed seeing an onscreen friendship between a gay woman and a gay man. Stereotypically, there’s a gay friend and a straight one but the LGBTQ community is a community. I feel films could explore these friendships more than they have in the past. Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a film so clever and so delicious that the titles question is immediately answered… Yes, Lee Israel, you are most certainly, forgiven.