By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Marielle Heller got a lot of heat from her directorial debut, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, but in typical Hollywood fashion it took this ascendant female talent three whole years to make her next film.
Meanwhile, isn’t Colin Treverrow on like his fourth chance by now?
Thankfully, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is every bit worth the wait. The film follows sad-sack biographer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) as she meets the even sadder sack partner-in-alcoholism Jack (Richard E. Grant) about the same time she realizes that a life in petty-ish crime forging letters from famous authors is both a creative outlet she can get some actual recognition for and pretty damn lucrative.
Melissa McCarthy has always hinted at a fine dramatic talent hiding behind the broad comedienne she’s most recognized as, but arguably has never been given a role to really stretch those muscles and show us what she’s got. You can rest assured that will never happen in her yearly nepotistic collaboration/birthday gift/blackmail(?) with hubby Ben Falcone.
Fuhk these movies.
Well, I’m here to tell you that all that potential is fully realized with Can You Ever Forgive Me? and then some. McCarthy is an, abrasive, whiskey-swilling vision of a woman who’s pushed everyone away in her life and wonders why nobody’s left besides the admittedly pretty rakish and possibly homeless Grant. While there’s much attraction to her acid wit and their devil may care criminality, the soul of the film is her slow recognizance that she lacks the kind of courage that allows her to say what she really feels in both her relationships and her writing. It’s as much of a coming of age film as The Diary of a Teenage Girl in many ways, and a reminder it’s never to late to do so.
Admittedly, I do have just the slightest sour taste from the fact that Lee was essentially able to reframe her fraudulent actions as a writer’s epiphany- Holofcener and Heller let this fascinating character off the hook a little too comfortably essentially because she was clearly fascinating and wrote a damn fascinating and probably quite profitable book about her criminal dalliance. Oh, to be white and even very mildly famous…
Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a cutting, bitter, and goddamn entertaining tale of forgery, something like friendship, and finding a voice.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: anytime anybody drinks
Take a Drink: for every letter
Take a Drink: whenever a character does something delightfully sociopathic
Do a Shot: for every visit to the vet’s office