Melissa McCarthy, sadly, does not scream quality. Her Oscar-nominated turn in Bridesmaids is a distant memory, her career since unfortunately littered with several downright terrible comedies—many directed by her husband.
Thankfully, Can You Ever Forgive Me? isn’t directed by her husband (though he does have a small role), and thankfully, the movie isn’t a complete offense to audiences. In fact, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is one of the best movies of the year so far, a highly entertaining comedy-drama that has McCarthy playing against type (sort of) and delivering what could be the best performance of her career.
McCarthy plays former New York Times bestselling author Lee Israel, who has fallen on hard times because no matter how good of a writer she is, her books don’t sell shit. Desperate for money, she cooks up a scheme to forge letters by popular authors. It proves to become quite lucrative until, you know, the feds get involved.
The movie is based on Israel’s memoir of the same name.
Directed by Marielle Heller and written by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a terrifically made and tightly told film that gets better as it goes along. McCarthy is fantastic, demonstrating her dramatic range while embracing the best parts of her comedic tendencies. MCarthy plays Israel as an antisocial and hilariously unpleasant individual, and I assume in real life she was an antisocial and hilariously unpleasant individual.
McCarthy is paired with Richard Grant, who is equally excellent as her flamboyant friend and partner in crime. He is great on his own, but he and McCarthy have incredible chemistry with one another.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is the best kind of biopic, an entertaining, compelling and highly amusing film that highlights an eccentric character and an elaborate crime in stupendous fashion. Whether McCarthy earns her second Oscar nomination for this role remains to be seen—she’s definitely worth consideration—she’d be wise to do more movies like this in the future. For her sake, and ours.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.