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Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

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Coming Soon

In theaters February 21.

When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception. An adaptation of the memoir Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the true story of best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel.

Director:

Marielle Heller

Writers:

Nicole Holofcener (screenplay by), Jeff Whitty (screenplay by)
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Popularity
196 ( 12)
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 13 wins & 28 nominations. See more awards »

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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
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Storyline

Following the critical and commercial failure of her biography of Estée Lauder, author Lee Israel struggles with financial troubles, writer's block and alcoholism. With her agent unable to secure her an advance for a new biography, Israel is forced to sell her possessions to cover her expenses; she sells a personal letter she received from Katharine Hepburn to Anna, a local book dealer. While conducting research for a novel about Fanny Brice, Israel happens upon a letter from Brice folded in a book, which she takes and offers to sell to Anna. She offers Israel a low price due to the letter's lack of interesting content. Israel begins to forge and sell letters by deceased writers, playwrights, and actors, lacing them with intimate details to command a higher price. Anna, who is a fan of Israel's own writing, attempts to initiate a romantic relationship with her, but is rebuffed..

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Certificate:

6 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 February 2019 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Copia originale See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$161,510, 21 October 2018, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$7,115,860, 13 December 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A pile of Lee Israel books ("Beyond the Magic", an unauthorized biography of Estee Lauder) are shown on sale at a bookstore for 75% off. Lauder was publishing her own memoirs and initially tried to pay Israel *not* to write her book, but she refused and rushed her book to publication. The autobiography was released in October 1985 and Israel's biography one month later. The book buying public chose to buy the Lauder's autobiography rather than the Israel's biography. Lee Israel later said she regretted not taking the money when it was first offered. See more »

Goofs

Twenty-first century automobiles vaguely drive around in some shots. See more »

Quotes

Jack Hock: You're a horrid cunt, Lee.
Lee Israel: You too, Jack.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in AniMat's Crazy Cartoon Cast: The Big Comeback (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Madeira
Written by Alexander McCabe
Performed by Alexander McCabe
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Write or Wrong
14 November 2018 | by jadepietroSee all my reviews

GRADE: B

THIS FILM IS RECOMMENDED.

IN BRIEF: Two great performances enhance a true tale about breaking the law.

JIM'S REVIEW: Lee Israel is a down-on-her-luck misanthropic writer who admittingly "likes cats more than people" and drink excessively. No one is interested in her novels, no one cares about her either. She is a sad lonely woman who isolates herself from the world and the world seems to prefer it that way too. Forced to survive, Lee decides that becoming a literary forger, complete with dead celebrity signatures, may actually be a more profitable vocation. Played with total honesty and conviction by Melissa McCartney, she becomes a most compelling character of worth in this fact-based biography, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Solidly directed by Marielle Heller and with a literate screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty that captures the 90's sensibilities very well, the film spends a great deal of time establishing Lee's self-enforced exile from the human race and her get-rich scheme. The storytelling becomes a tad monotonous and is more leisurely paced than necessary. But the true life story of an author unable to cope with the harsh realities of life is always a fascinating subject.

And Ms. McCartney is a wonder, showing the full gamut of emotion. She restrains her great comic prowess and exchanges it for genuine pathos and vulnerability. Never allowing her character to become overly sympathetic or too much a victim, Ms. McCartney makes Lee a pathetic yet shrewd criminal. Abetting Lee is her partner-in-crime, a flamboyantly gay Jack Hoch. Richard E. Grant is superb as her only friend and carefree accomplice. These two misfits become a wonderful tag team and bring much nuance to their well written roles. They are both deserving of award consideration. Fine support also comes from its strong cast which includes Dolly Wells, Stephen Spinella, Ben Falcone, Anna Deavera Smith, and Jane Curtain as Lee's frustrated agent.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a nicely honed character study that provides an acting showcase for the talented Ms. M. who hopefully will have more dramatic opportunities in her future cinematic ventures.


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