Monday, December 3, 2018
Can You Ever Forgive Me is a subtle but elegant constellation of friendship, art, and crime. Critics’ darling Melissa McCarthy manages to become an utterly crabby but somewhat lovable Lee Israel, a once best-selling author who resorts to literary forgery after releasing a critically and commercially panned biography. Alongside her delightfully hysterical best friend, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), Israel navigates a world of larceny, eviction threats, and FBI probes with sour but enjoyable wit and candor. The plot, which begins with Israel nabbing toilet paper from a Manhattan writer’s party and ends on the same road of shrewd New York City comedy, is obvious throughout the schemes and subsequent consequences. However, aided heavily by the caustic and charming performances by McCarthy and Grant, respectively, director Marielle Heller succeeds in carrying the audience through the trials of this entertaining odd couple with delicate, honest insights into the human conditions of isolation, reticence, and unappreciated artistry.