Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a film that surprises and delights in equal measure. Although, on paper, a crime-caper of sorts, this true-life tale of literary forgery is actually much, much more. It’s a film about friendship, and loneliness. A film about the chew-you-up-and-spit-you-out world of the creative arts. But most of all it’s a call to all of us who feel the pressure to be someone we’re not—whether at work or at home—to stay true to ourselves.
Playing one-time best-selling author, Lee Israel, forced into an unconventional–and quite illegal– line of work, Melissa McCarthy is more genuinely funny in this bittersweet drama than she’s ever been in her gag-reel movies. Richard E. Grant (as Jack Hock) is a joy to watch and, while he mostly plays it for laughs when the pathos comes, it’s hard not to feel a shiver. It’s a Withnail recites Hamlet in the rain moment all over again.
It is rare to see a film led by two gay characters who aren’t cozy stereotypes. Rare to see a tale about mature people that isn’t in The Bucket List or Exotic Marigold Hotel mould. And rarer than hen’s teeth to find a film that gives you all these things plus a mature women who’s snarky, funny, and would spit in your eye should you ever suggest she should be drifting into her genteel, autumn years.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? has won awards galore and it’s sure to win a place in your heart too.