Forgery is the “art” in creating a counterfeit. Can you ever forgive me? is about an artist, turned forger, who struggles to save her soul as she slides ever so slowly down the slippery slope of literary counterfeits.
If you think you are going to see Melissa McCarthy in a comedy like Bridesmaids, don't waste your time or money on this film. However, if you're looking for a strong dramatic piece with surprisingly good acting and a storyline that will have you thinking days after you see this film, you will love this movie.
Can you ever forgive me? is based on a true story about the writer, Lee Israel, and her fall from grace. The acting and writing is very good with Oscar nominations going to Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant for acting and best adapted screenplay going to Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty.
McCarthy plays Israel, a published writer who has just been fired for telling her boss to F-off. As she struggles to save her herself she befriends a happy-go-lucky-type guy, Jack Hock, played by Grant. The two of them commiserate in their predicaments and support each other through dark humour and general scheming. We feel their hopelessness and get an insight into their desperation through the choices they make.
McCarthy plays great at being pissed off at anything and anyone who annoys her in the least. She is defiant and self-destructive. Her vulnerability has the audience feeling sorry for her, and at the same time we feel slightly nervous riding the journey with her. Grant plays a wonderful gentleman with an edge of pathos and sadness suspecting there is more to his story than we first see.
Director Marielle Heller is young in her career as a filmmaker and has taken the next step in her upward path with this film. She has painted a canvas of a realistic 1990s Manhattan, from the bars and bookstores to the streets and buildings. As we follow Israel around, we feel the overpowering presence of New York money, art and smugness.
The screenplay is well crafted and, through the wonderful acting of McCarthy and Grant, keeps us slightly on the edge of our seats throughout the film.
Contrary to so many other films that have wasted scenes that do nothing to move the plot forward, Can you ever forgive me? will keep your attention from beginning to end. For these reasons I give the film four out of five tugboats.
Can you ever forgive me? plays at the Patricia Theatre in Powell River at 7 pm on Wednesday, March 20, as well as 1:30 and 7 pm on Thursday, March 21.
Stephen J. Miller is a producer and creative writer in feature films and television, and past owner of repertoire movie theatres.