Friday, October 19, 2018

Movie with Abe: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Directed by Marielle Heller
Released October 19, 2018

There exist people who are interested in just about anything. There are clubs and groups devoted to extraordinarily specific subjects, even if they may not seem mainstream or normative. The literary community has many different factions, and those who admire famed authors can obsess over their work and yearn to learn juicy secrets and unknown facts about the lesser-known parts of their lives. Letters from an author to another person can convey a good deal about who they really were, though, as this film clearly demonstrates, there’s no real way to know just how authentic they actually are.

Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) is an author searching for her next project, and what she’s proposed but hasn’t really written has been fiercely decried as completely uninteresting by her agent. Miserable and in need of cash, Lee comes across a literary letter and realizes just how much money she can make by selling it. Using her way with words, Lee begins forging letters and selling them all across New York City. Through her illegal enterprise, she befriends an equally opportunistic con artist, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), and a bookshop owner, Anna (Dolly Wells), who expresses a romantic interest in Lee, who is far more attracted to the continuation of the art that can pay her bills and earn her praise from those who have no idea they’re looking at a forgery.

McCarthy is an actress known for her loud, unabashed comedy, receiving an Oscar nomination for her standout turn in “Bridesmaids” and a number of lead roles in parodies like “Spy” and “The Happytime Murders.” Though McCarthy wasn’t the original choice to play Lee, she is a brilliant one, since the part allows her to use her comic talents in a far dryer and subtler way than usual. She portrays Lee as an intellectual utterly disgusted by those who don’t share her worldview, and her ability to copy the penmanship and styles of famous authors serves as a symbolic revenge against the universe for not realizing the talent that she actually possesses.

Opposite McCarthy, Grant, who has been working consistently in film for decades, serves as a fantastic foil in the part of Jack, whose fortunes have turned out similarly to Lee’s but who looks at life in an altogether different way, eager for the next big ride rather than looking for the next disappointment. Wells, also known for her comedy, adds a bit of honest and well-intentioned humanity that is never at the forefront of Lee or Israel’s actions as the sweet-natured Anna. This film’s story, based on true events, is specific and engaging, and the moody darkness that surrounds it helps to amplify a surprisingly entertaining and wild tale.


No comments: