BBFC Ratingf-rated FilmCan You Ever Forgive Me?

Booking coming soon.
GenreBiography, Comedy, Crime
Director(s)Marielle Heller
Running Time1HR 46MINS
SeasonMain Programme

Melissa McCarthy gives a powerhouse performance as audacious literary forger and caustic wit Lee Israel in this darkly humorous biopic from director Marielle Heller.

Here’s a quintessentially New York movie, where city loneliness can be soothed by a kind face at a bookstore counter. It’s the early 1990s, and Lee Israel is a writer out of fashion. Her celebrity biographies aren’t selling, she can’t get over her ex-girlfriend and she’s been thrown out of every literary party in town for drunkenness. On top of it all, her cat is sick. Dark times call for desperate measures. Spurred on by roguish drinking buddy Jack (Richard E Grant), Israel turns to a get-rich-quick scheme that uses her research skills plus a little knack for impersonation. Next thing, she’s selling some ‘newly discovered’ correspondence from Noël Coward, amongst other literary giants.

Director Marielle Heller follows The Diary of a Teenage Girl with this irresistible tale of a female crime genius, working with Nicole Holofcener’s (Enough Said) beautifully calibrated adaptation of Israel’s own memoir. Melissa McCarthy is a revelation as Israel, a ‘difficult woman’ whom she imbues with poignancy and a great line in alcohol-fuelled barbs. Whether it’s trading insults with Jack at the bar or making prank calls by impersonating Nora Ephron, McCarthy almost makes you believe Israel’s own defiant assertion, ‘I’m a better Dorothy Parker than Dorothy Parker!’.

- Kate Taylor, BFI London Film Festival


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