7.6/10
3,868
53 user 120 critic

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Trailer
2:35 | Trailer

Coming Soon

In theaters February 21.

When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception.

Director:

Marielle Heller

Writers:

Nicole Holofcener (screenplay by), Jeff Whitty (screenplay by)
Reviews
Popularity
302 ( 135)

Just How Cool is Melissa McCarthy?

Golden Globe and Oscar nominee Richard E. Grant shares why his chemistry with co-star Melissa McCarthy on the set of Can You Ever Forgive Me? was instant.

Watch now

Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 36 wins & 75 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Certificate: 12 Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A woman in Harlem embraces her pregnancy while she and her family struggle to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime.

Director: Barry Jenkins
Stars: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King
Arctic (2018)
Certificate: 12 Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A man stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of... See full summary »

Director: Joe Penna
Stars: Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Thelma Smáradóttir
Vice I (2018)
Certificate: 16 Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today.

Director: Adam McKay
Stars: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell
The Favourite (2018)
Certificate: 12 Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Stars: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz
Green Book (2018)
Certificate: 12 Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.

Director: Peter Farrelly
Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini
Certificate: 16 Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Mary Stuart's attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, finds her condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution.

Director: Josie Rourke
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

American Senator Gary Hart's presidential campaign in 1988 is derailed when he's caught in a scandalous love affair.

Director: Jason Reitman
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons
Widows (2018)
Certificate: 16 Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.

Director: Steve McQueen
Stars: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki
Boy Erased (2018)
Certificate: 12 Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The son of a Baptist preacher is forced to participate in a church-supported gay conversion program after being forcibly outed to his parents.

Director: Joel Edgerton
Stars: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Joel Edgerton
Stan & Ollie (2018)
Certificate: 9 Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Laurel and Hardy, the world's most famous comedy duo, attempt to reignite their film careers as they embark on what becomes their swan song - a grueling theatre tour of post-war Britain.

Director: Jon S. Baird
Stars: John C. Reilly, Steve Coogan, Shirley Henderson
Ben Is Back (2018)
Certificate: 12 Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A drug addicted teenage boy shows up unexpectedly at his family's home on Christmas Eve.

Director: Peter Hedges
Stars: Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges, Courtney B. Vance
Certificate: 12 Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A look at the life of painter Vincent van Gogh during the time he lived in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise, France.

Director: Julian Schnabel
Stars: Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Melissa McCarthy ... Lee Israel
Richard E. Grant ... Jack Hock
Dolly Wells ... Anna
Ben Falcone ... Alan Schmidt
Gregory Korostishevsky ... Andre
Jane Curtin ... Marjorie
Stephen Spinella ... Paul
Christian Navarro ... Kurt
Pun Bandhu ... Agent Doyle
Erik LaRay Harvey ... Agent Solonas
Brandon Scott Jones ... Glen
Shae D'lyn ... Nell
Rosal Colon ... Rachel
Anna Deavere Smith ... Elaine
Marc Evan Jackson ... Lloyd
Edit

Storyline

Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) made her living in the 1970's and 80's profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee is no longer able to get published because she has fallen out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack (Richard E. Grant). An adaptation of the memoir "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" relays the true story of the best-selling celebrity biographer (and friend to cats). Written by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Certificate:

6 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 February 2019 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

¿Podrás perdonarme? See more »

Edit

Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$161,510, 21 October 2018, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$7,779,818, 21 January 2019
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Melissa McCarthy's husband, Ben Falcone, was attached to the project before she was. He recommended her for the lead when another actor backed out. See more »

Goofs

A couple of times we see the characters sitting in a bar, while a snowstorm is obviously occurring outside, but when they walk outside, there isn't any snow on the ground at all. See more »

Quotes

Lee Israel: Can you keep a secret?
Jack Hock: Who would I tell? All my friends are dead.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Good Morning Britain: Episode dated 9 January 2019 (2019) See more »

Soundtracks

Maduros
Written by Alexander McCabe
Performed by Alexander McCabe and Robi Hager
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Film Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?/www.nightfilmreviews.com
30 October 2018 | by lucasnochezSee all my reviews

Many of the greatest writers to have ever lived wrote their stories and ideas whisked under the heavy smoke of dive bars and speak easy's in New York City; basked in the heavy odour of dried gin, bourbon and whiskey, some of the world's literary genius' stories have been told on the silver screen over the last few decades. Can You Ever Forgive Me?, I can assure you, is not one of those stories.

Yet, even though Lee Isreal (Melissa McCarthy) isn't one of those writers, her story is just as entertaining and captivating as one of the greats.

Isreal, played masterfully by McCarthy, is a frumpy, miserable biographer who has profiled some iconic subjects, including Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Dorothy Kilgallen and Estee Lauder; the later who was easily responsible for destroying her career due to a less than favourable depiction. After her biography of Lauder, Isreal quickly declined into a life of alcoholism, wage labour and loneliness. Can You Ever Forgive Me? picks up right at Israel's multitude of misfortune; showcasing her inability to pay rent, live in less than sanitary living conditions and barely being able to support herself and her sick cat, Jersey.

After being fired from her job for drinking while working, Isreal coincidentally runs into an old acquaintance Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) at a local bar. While the two reminisce of 'pissing' off some guests at a recent party, the two share some stories, drinks and laughs together, and quickly become drinking buddies and eventual friends, much to Isreal's surprise. The chemistry between McCarthy and Grant, although not romantic, is reminiscent of some of the best Bonnie and Clyde type pairings in film in recent memory. While the duo are both very different personalities, thanks to the forceless acting of both nuanced and comedic actors, Lee and Jack bounce off one another's miscreant behaviour as if they were two hyenas; starving on the streets of New York, drunk with possibility, old memories and wonderment. Watching Can You Ever Forgive Me? just for the promise of getting some of the best buddy-con comedy moments of 2018, would be an understatement.

Yet, no matter how many good times and stiff drinks the two share, the realities of the real world comes crumbling down on them in disarraying fashion, especially onto Isreal. Threatened with eviction and the possibility of losing her cat at any given moment due to its declining health, as fate would have it, Isreal stumbles across a genuine letter written by Fanny Brice during her research at a local library. Thinking of it more as a meal ticket than as a collectors piece, Isreal sells the letter to a local bookstore collector Anna (Dolly Wells), thus giving her the brilliant idea to embellish other letters by prominent celebrity figures for monetary gain. Visiting local archives and stealing original letters, embellishing her own letters out of thin air or adding her own flair to already existing letters, Isreal's escapades amounted to over four-hundred forged pieces of work.

While the real-life Israel passed away in 2014, the author's most infamous works still remain to be her criminal activity and the embellishment of these letters, as well as the confessional novel in which this movie is based on. While upon its release, many critics, publishers and the literary community found the novel to be overtly tongue-in-cheek, and merely another form of a meal ticket for Isreal following her criminal activity. Yet, the film itself is a very sombre and lumpy depiction, very carefully avoiding as much spectacle, glamour and embellishment of its own, telling a very straight forward story of a woman who is down on her luck and who's back is against the wall, left with no other options.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? wouldn't be able to exist without the quite exquisite performance of McCarthy; its clear she wasn't copying anyone else while portraying an unpleasant woman with not much positivity in her life. McCarthy, who was recommended to the director by her husband Ben Falcone, already being cast in a role, following the departure of Julianne Moore, puts to rest any unease one may have about a dramatic career for the infamously notorious comedienne, who's rise to fame came quickly and almost unexpectedly in 2011 following a star making performance in Bridesmaids. McCarthy showcases a range of excellent sleight and dry comedic demure with her negativity, slightly giving the audiences glimpses of her dark wit and using it towards an unlikable character whose moral compass isn't very aligned with the realities and expectations of the world.

Alongside her partner in crime, McCarthy's performance is so nuanced yet gripping, it elevates the performances of everyone around her, including Dolly Wells, a naive and charming inherited bookstore owner who also shows some interest in Isreal's talent and personality. Isreal's interaction, including a very emotionally closed off 'date' with Anna at a restaurant are among the most memorable scenes in the film. Luckily for the tone of the film, none of these interactions are overtly showy, which sits respectfully next to the tone of film. Sadly, as we've seen too many times in the past, Academy Awards voters aren't always easily convinced with very subtle and quietly ingenious performances. It's without question that the studio and actress herself will be campaigning for a Best Actress Nomination come this holiday season, but only time will tell whether voters will respond to the actress's transformation.

While Can You Ever Forgive Me? could be a hard film to recommend to others, due mostly to the fact that mentioning McCarthy's name may give general audiences' some sort of physical, goof-ball level comedic performance expectations, no thanks to horrid roles for McCarthy in The Boss and Tammy. Yet, McCarthy proves she is not to be underestimated. Can You Ever Forgive Me? may not prove to be the best performance by an actress in 2018, but it sure as heck may be the most pleasantly surprising; a type of performance audiences can clap and root for come Awards season and for many other comedy actresses in the near future. Here is looking at you Kate McKinnon.


10 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 53 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed

 
Love on a Hanger | Diana: Die geheimen Interviews | Shokugeki no Soma 131